- Face your oil bunkering, leave us out of attacks on soldiers, N’Delta Avengers tells JTF
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Niger Delta Warriors (NDW), one of the many militant groups in the Niger Delta region yesterday alleged that the duo of Henry and Charles Okah, who are currently in separate prisons in Nigeria and South Africa, were giving orders to the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) in its purported bid to be secure peace in the region.
The group, which described MEND as “defunct,” urged the federal government to be wary of the ex-militants, noting that releasing the Okahs would further deepen the crisis in the area.
In a statement by Sibiri Taiowoh, the group’s spokesman, it advised the federal government to stick with the Chief Edwin Clark group if any headway is to achieved in the proposed negotiations.
“We want to use this medium to send a strong warning to the federal government to be wary of those using the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to seek political relevance and to free incarcerated Henry and Charles Okah who are dishing out commands from their prisons.
“Their proposal would cause more crisis in the Niger Delta if the government fails to heed our persistent warning. The MEND that is issuing statements is just a scam. It is a diversionary and a divide and rule vehicle deployed by some jobbers. You will follow them at your own peril,” the NDW warned.
It added: “We would rather advise the federal government, if it really wants genuine peace, to leverage on what Clark and the Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, started in Warri, Delta State, and start the dialogue that would involve all ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region.”
According to the group, the federal government could use the Clark template to start engaging genuine stakeholders in the region for an “all round peace and development of the region.
“Our demands have been made bare overtime and we don’t want to repeat ourselves. We believe once the government shows sincerity and kick-starts these plans, we would do everything possible to give them the peace they want, to continue the oil exploration, which is the sole interest of the federal government in the region.
“We are still observing the ceasefire as a mark of respect for our elders, leaders and various stakeholders who have pleaded with us because we want development to come to our impoverished people.
“We want our people to enjoy electricity, pipe borne water and healthcare like Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, and other IOCs are enjoying while exploring oil in our communities.
“However, while we are observing this momentary peace, MEND, which is playing the role of spoiler, should not dare us, otherwise the October 1, 2011, experience would be their portion during their slated tour.
“If Henry and Charles Okah want amnesty which they rejected because they want to continue with their gun running business, they should do that quietly without rubbing it on our face. MEND should not push us into facing them.”
Meanwhile, after formally declaring ceasefire on oil facilities, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) last night took on the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) code- named Operation Delta Safe, accusing the outfit of involvement in oil bunkering.
The militant group which has been claiming responsibilities for bombings of oil pipelines in the region accused the military of justifying its operations by labelling every criminals as members of NDA.
The group, which declared ceasefire last weekend, was reacting to the claims of arrest of three of its members involved in the killing of soldiers in Nembe in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State by the Joint Task Force (JTF).
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Mudoch Agbinibo, the NDA condemned security reports linking its operatives to the killing of the said soldiers.
“The High Command of the Niger Delta Avengers condemns the entire security reports linking our forces to the killing of Nigerian troops in Nembe, Bayelsa State.
“NDA still wonders when this charade and acts of desperation of the Nigeria military, by always linking crimes in the southern part of Nigeria, to our fighters will stop,” it added.
NDA noted that it was a shame that Operations Delta Safe is still employing the old habits of deliberately dinning and wining with unaudited intelligence from political thugs, political paymasters and enemies of the Niger Delta to perpetuate its continuous funding and relevance by catching in on the hunger in the land.
“One question for the Commander of Operation Delta Safe: Who are the people perpetuating the ongoing illegal oil bunkerings in the Niger Delta at the moment? Because we have both video and pictorial evidence of your troop’s serious involvement in the pervasive crude oil thefts.
“We have records of how much profit you collect and make per day from these atrocities in the Niger Delta,” it asked.
To set the records straight, the destructive militant group said it cannot go after the military’s Dane guns and ammunition “Since the, start of ‘Operation Red Economy,’ our forces did not fire one shot until we have achieved this great success of crippling crude oil productions in the Niger Delta to about 800,000 barrels per day.
“Those gangs members paraded as killers of troops of ODS are well known followers of Mr Africa Ukparasai and Mr. Timipre Silva, who were purposefully armed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the governorship elections of Bayelsa State.
“If your forces and formations come under attack by notorious elements of your own political collaborators and calculations, you should accept it as a friendly fire ( from your own dubious creations getting loose and fighting back to protect their territories and bellies) and enjoy it whilst it last but excuse the NDA from your ‘pig and mud squabbles.’
“Yesterday was Arepo in Ogun State, today is Nembe in Bayelsa State where is the next state you want to involve the NDA in this your bread and butter security conspiracies and collaborations?
“Please count us out of your incapacities and blackmails. Is this not the Operation Delta Safe that is the puppet and child of necessity of some jailbirds and political shenanigans?
“We the NDA and Niger Delta people know that you are not here to protect anything in the region rather you have come to perpetuate more crude oil thefts that are worst. As such, we have avoided everything that will justify your continuous stay and sour your illicit funds.
“Just a moment, in our reality checks, from Operation Hakuri two, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Pulo Shield and today Operation Delta Safe, your formations and troops have always been the merchants of illegal oil bunkering activities in our Niger Delta.
“Your outfits in most cases deliberately trigger killings and kidnappings to make your services relevant.
“Conclusively, we want to ask if it is best practices for heads of military formations in the Niger Delta to become super rich months after been deployment, acquiring properties locally/internationally?”