Niger Delta Avengers Disown Contact Group, Says No Negotiation with FG

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Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

The Niger Delta Avengers on Wednesday disowned a statement to the effect that it had agreed to negotiate with the federal government towards ending the current crisis in the Niger Delta region.

Wednesday’s rebuttal was sequel to a statement released earlier by a purported spokesman for the Dialogue Group, one Mr. Ballantyne Agiri, which said that the group had agreed to renounce its violent approach to resolving the under-development of the oil-rich region.

Agiri said that the NDA had constituted a contact and dialogue group to engage the Federal Government in dialogue as part of the initiatives to resolve the crisis, adding that the group was determined to come out with results that would yield lasting peace, equity, justice and harmony among all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.

However, while accusing members of the so-called contact group of being impostors, the NDA, which commenced the destruction of oil and gas platforms in the region earlier this year, maintained that it would not enter into negotiations with the federal government.

“We are not ready for any negotiation or dialogue with the federal government”, the group said, warning the said contact group members to stop deceiving the public.
“Who is Mr Ballantyne Agiri, the acclaimed dialogue group spokesman?”, the NDA asked. “We don’t know you, and please stop fooling the general public”, it added.

But Agiri had said in his public statement, “The body (NDA) has collectively and willingly agreed to heed the clarion call of eminent Nigerians and international community to dialogue with the Federal Government’’.

The purported contact group’s spokesman also urged Nigerians and the international community to follow developments on the issue closely and watch out for which side would violate the terms, rules and spirit of the dialogue.

“The Federal Government should from the inception of the dialogue rule out from the agenda any monthly monetary inducement or stipend for the NDA.

“The Federal Government should be ready for structural changes that should be human and development-oriented.

“Members of the avengers’ group (who will participate in the dialogue) have already been selected, each based on his integrity, forthrightness, honesty and life track records.

“The names of members of the group for now shall not be made public for personal reasons until they begin functioning in few days ahead,’’ Agiri had said.