By Emmanuel Addeh
A splinter Niger Delta ex-militants’ group, the Reformed Egbesu Avengers, REA, on Saturday vowed to go after those who have recently begun a smear campaign against ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, and linking him with the current violent militancy in the region.
The group’s latest statement also buttresses insinuations that the ex-warlords are sharply divided over allegations, especially by a group, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, that former President Jonathan formed the Niger Delta Avengers as a political tool to bargain with the present government.
NDA, unarguably the most recalcitrant and unyielding of the major groups in the oil-rich region, had, since the beginning of this year, embarked on its ‘Zero Oil Economy’ slogan, destroying major oil and gas platforms in the Niger Delta.
In a statement issued in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, by the group’s spokesmans, ‘General’ Columbus Okolobo, the Reformed Egbesu Avengers specifically pledged to hunt down the leadership of the RNDA, which it said had become the mouthpiece of politicians who are bent on detracting from the ex-president’s ‘rising profile’.
It particularly singled out Cynthia Whyte, spokesperson of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, arrowheads of the campaign, for ‘peddling falsehood’ and challenged her to reveal her identity.
The Egbesu Avengers described the purported security/intelligence report linking Jonathan to the rising militancy in the area as a cover for its sinister motives and advised the group to return to the original tenets of the struggle.
“The lid has blown open over Cynthia Whyte, as Nigerians now understand that same person is the spokesperson for MEND and the RNDA. We urge them to quit acting scripts because they can no longer masquerade, the carpet is off their feet.
‘The cordial relationship between RNDA and other militants groups with security agencies points to the fact there is a romance to hatch devilish allegations and machinations against perceived political foes”, the Egbesu group alleged.
Okolobo noted that the unforced handover by Jonathan was not a smokescreen, but a watershed in the history of the nation that earned Nigeria respect before the international community.
The Reformed Egbesu Avengers which recently pulled out of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, a splinter group of NDA, said that the report was suggestive of political machinations to drag Jonathan’s name through the mud.
Okolobo averred that his group pulled out because the RNDA and other militant groups had suddenly become political tools in the hands of politicians to settle political differences as well as hound perceived enemies.
He emphasized that REA left the mother group because its members were no longer comfortable with the RNDA and other militant groups owing to the political infiltration of their ranks.
Describing the alleged security report as a ruse, it noted that the report was concocted to rubbish Dr. Jonathan’s ‘meritorious public service to fatherland’.
Okolobo refuted allegations that Jonathan met with any militant group before the general election in 2015, stressing that the account was unfounded and fanned by political foes.