Finally, Niger Delta Avengers agrees to peace talks, want independent mediators


Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

The Niger Delta Avengers, the new face of violent agitations in the oil-rich region, on Monday backed down from its rigid position not to enter into any form of dialogue with the federal government, but affirmed that independent international mediators must be involved in the talks.

Among others, the group in February this year, commenced massive attacks on oil and gas facilities belonging to both local and international oil concerns, including Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

It has also hit facilities owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Aiteo Oil in Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa Ibom States at various times since the onslaught started.

But while reconsidering its stand not to enter into talks with federal authorities, the group noted that it would only negotiate with the government under the right atmosphere and with the right attitude from the government team and international mediators.

A statement signed by ‘Brigadier General’ Mudock Agbinibo, the group’s spokesperson, however said that until the framework for the proposed talks was agreed upon, all destroyed pipelines must remain unrepaired.

It noted that to show the NDA’s seriousness, two large vessels belonging to the oil companies would be sunk in the deep waters if the oil concerns flout the order not to carry out repairs or lift crude oil until after negotiations.

The NDA also vowed to renege on its vow not to shed any blood or take innocent lives if the federal government refuses to create the right atmosphere for discussions, noting that when the dialogue earnestly begins, all parties must keep to the conditions.

‘’The high command of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is using this medium to restate that there are no new items to put on the table for dialogue.

‘’We only want a genuine attitude and conducive atmosphere that will make us commit to any proposed dialogue and lasting peace talk.