•Insists ex-militants’ group scamming FG
By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The President of the influential Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, yesterday fought back the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, a splinter group of the Niger Delta Avengers, over allegations naming him as a member of the militant group currently destroying oil and gas infrastructure in the region.
The IYC President maintained that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, currently negotiating with the federal government , lacked the mandate to carry out the assignment and was only using the cover of the RNDA to blackmail leaders in the Niger Delta.
While denying backing the militant group, he insisted that the RNDA were the same members of MEND, noting that they were after his life because he was against the current talks between the group and the federal government which he described as a scam.
Aside Eradiri, a statement signed by the RNDA spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte, had also listed President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Seriake Dickson, Governor Nyesom Wike and other prominent leaders from the region as sponsors of the NDA. Many of them have denied the accusation.
But the IYC chief who spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, headquarters of the socio-cultural group, stated that the promoters of MEND were deliberately blackmailing him for opposing their Aaron team Two, for attempting to defraud the federal government.
“I have come out clearly to say that the government should stop negotiating with certain elements because they are deceiving the government.
“They are holding meetings here and there but they don’t have the mandate. I disagreed with them. So, the best thing to do is to blackmail Udengs.
“I told them without fear that they should stop using the Niger Delta crisis to make money. I am the IYC President and I can’t sit down and allow some persons to use the struggle to be making money for themselves.
“They are those elements in the creeks who are looking for all means to come out, having committed crimes against the state and having killed innocent people in the name of our struggle, we won’t accept those things.
“And that is why some of us equally disagreed when they said MEND was negotiating, negotiating with whom? Who sent MEND to negotiate? MEND has been settled.
“They have threatened to kill me after my interview with Silverbird. They threatened to kill me, it didn’t work. I have been threatened for opposing their negotiation team without consulting the stakeholders and the people of the region,” he said
He challenged members of the RNDA to come out openly if indeed they were genuine instead of hiding behind various pseudonyms.
He said: “I have no business whatsoever with the Niger Delta Avengers. I am the President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the largest youth organisation in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and not spokesman of the Niger Delta Avengers.
“Since the splinter group of the Niger Delta Avengers said they have broken away and repented from their old ways, I call on them to come out in open and identify themselves openly instead of still using pseudo names such as Cynthia Whyte to issue statements.
“Any discerning mind would know that the said statement purportedly naming sponsors of Avengers was issued by the promoters of the Aaron 11 MEND negotiation with the federal government.
“Their grouse against me is because I said in my recent interviews that MEND Aaron 11 team does have the mandate of the Ijaw and other Niger Delta people to negotiate with the federal government. They are desperate because of the lack of credibility in what they are doing.”
Eradiri said his position that MEND had no right to jump into the fray and constitute an Aaron team to negotiate with the Federal Government remained the same adding that as a group MEND ceased to exist the moment its members were granted amnesty.
He urged the security at agencies not to take the threat to his life lightly, advising that urgent action should be taken against all those who are after his life.
“I also want to put on record the consistent threat to my life by the promoters of the Aaron 11 MEND negotiation with the federal government. They have been consistently saying that they would deal with me.
“The security agencies especially the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) already know them since they claimed to be negotiating with the government and should take note and appropriate actions on this threat,” he said.
He insisted that the best way of resolving the conflicts in the region was to toe the path of former Presidents by negotiating with the Niger Delta leaders.
He asked the government to use its intelligence in identifying and dealing with the real threats in the region instead of squandering scarce resources on some groups that posed no threats.
“Former President Obasanjo did not negotiate with anybody. He negotiated with the leaders. The late Yar’Adua did not negotiate with any group, he negotiated with the leaders. Goodluck engaged the leaders. Why does President Buhari government think that negotiating with pseudo organisations will bring about peace,” he queried.