03 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, has announced the withdrawal of its representatives from the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), a coalition of elders and leaders in the region.
In a statement obtained by our correspondent in Abuja, spokesman for MEND, Jomo Gbomo, who announced the withdrawal in a statement, accused the forum leaders of being insincere. He urged the Federal Government to ignore the communique issued by the elders and stakeholders of the coastal states.
The communique was issued at the end of a one-day Elders and Stakeholders meeting of the Niger Delta coastal states held in Warri, Delta State Friday.
But MEND advised the Federal Government to ignore the communique because it “failed to categorically condemn the criminal and treasonable activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).”
The development comes two days after PANDEF gave the federal government a three-month ultimatum to implement the agreements reached in the peace deal.
Gbomo accused PANDEF of issuing threats to the federal government through some militant groups.
PANDEF, which has been instrumental in ending the resurgence of militancy under the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday threatened that it would withdraw from the peace negotiation with the government if the forum’s demands were not met before November 1.
“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) dissociates itself from the hypocritical press conference called on Monday, July 31, 2017 in Abuja by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF),” the statement read.
It added that, “PANDEF, led by elder statesmen Chief Edwin Clark and His Royal Highness King Alfred Diette-Spiff, lack the moral justification in giving an ultimatum to the Federal government and making demands they never made from (former president) Goodluck Jonathan when he was at the helm for six wasted years.
“Instead of listening to the so-called Niger Delta activists and the compromised Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) who have miraculously regained the voices they lost when Jonathan was president, and instead of issuing threats through fake internet-based militant groups, PANDEF ought to have used the forum and opportunity to commend the federal government for exposing the monumental looting of our commonwealth by some sons and daughters of the soil starting from the former president, his wife Patience, cousins, relatives and cronies and so many other traitors; down to the mind boggling theft by Diezani Alison-Madueke, who empowered others while her people lived in squalor and abject poverty.
“PANDEF is also pretending not to notice that the Amnesty programme is still operating on the corrupt template that still pays ghost militants after it hoodwinked the government into believing in the fraud. A programme that has neglected the children of the dead freedom fighters and those in prison, for those that never made any sacrifice is cursed.
“In view of our irreconcilable differences, MEND hereby recalls its representatives in PANDEF for consultation with immediate effect,” the statement read.
MEND’s position was buttressed by another militant group, the Niger Delta People’s Congress (NDPC), which also faulted the November 1 ultimatum given by the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum to the Federal Government.
The group’s Convener, Chief Mike Loyibo, stated this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
Loyibo, however said the threat was ‘selfish and unpatriotic’.
He said, “It is highly selfish and unpatriotic for the Chief E. K. Clark-led PANDEF to give the Federal Government an ultimatum considering the right steps taken so far by the government towards a permanent solution to the age-long crisis that had bedeviled the Niger Delta region.
“We are aware that the government constituted a high-powered committee chaired by the Acting President who has demonstrated so much passion and commitment towards the region.
“PANDEF is just one of the many groups in the region and its decision cannot be binding on everybody.
“There is no need for the Federal Government to negotiate with any group, rather, the Presidency should go back to the people in the host communities just the same way that the Acting President went round initially to seek their buy-in. After all, it was not PANDEF that secured peace in the region.
“They have consulted widely and a road map has already been fashioned out. The Federal Government should not allow any group to slow her down rather, immediate action should be taken to tackle already identified issues.”