Beware of Clark’s Peace Overtures, Militant Group Warns FG

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  • Denies negotiation deal with Ijaw national leader

Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

New regional militia in Nigeria, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM), has warned the Federal Government and its agencies to be wary of overtures for peace in the oil-rich region spearheaded by elder statesman and erstwhile information minister, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark.

In an e-mailed statement on Sunday the nascent militant group dissociated itself from the reported decision by the NDGJM to buy into the peace plans apparently being pursued by the Buhari administration to halt the embarrassing spate of violent agitation signposted by the series of attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger-Delta.

Specifically, the group said that it has no member by the name of “Odu” alleged to be representing the NDGJM in the reported peace moves with the Federal Government under the Clark-led negotiation initiative, threatening to continue its violent campaign of bombing oil and gas installations outside the creeks and coastal parts of the region.

The octogenarian national Ijaw leader is widely believed to have won the confidence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s team saddled with getting around the knotty issue of restoring enduring peace in the region as one of the visible personages in the area.

Only two weeks ago, Clark convened a Niger Delta stakeholders meeting in Effurun (near Warri), Delta State, was primarily to establish a roadmap for fashioning enduring peace and security in the region.

The round-table event was attended by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, who used the occasion to reiterate his administration’s real concern about the disruptive activities of the resurgence of militancy in the state and Niger Delta vis-a-vis the direct financial costs to the state in terms of monthly declining revenue from the Federation Account.

However, the NDGJM condemned what it said was an attempt to fraudulently include it in the list of agitating groups he (Clark) had brought to the negotiation table, saying it does not trust the role of Clark alleging that lucre, rather than peace in the Niger-Delta, appeared to be the real interest of elder statesman and politician.

In the statement by “General” Aldo Agbalaja, spokesman of the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, sent to THISDAY in Asaba on Sunday, the new militia denounced the aforementioned recent stakeholders meeting at PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, as being practically an Ijaw affair as have been the reported negotiation with the country’s central government.

Agbalaja said, “We have warned the Federal Government to be wary of the old man, Chief E.K Clark, and his antics; he can do anything to make dirty money. He and his cohorts, in their desperation to make the unsuspecting government, oil companies and the general public believe they are indeed ‘lords’ of the Delta, created a big fat lie, another charade, in the name of a nonexistent cease fire by the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate.

“For the avoidance of doubts, we have seen no reason to halt our anger against the Nigerian federal government, not when the oppressive system has yet to move a muscle to respond to our requests. We want to categorically say that we have no member, less talking of leader by the name ODU, as quoted by the Vanguard newspaper.

“This said call and the so-called ceasefire is all a job, just like the Ijaw-dominated, Clark-convened Niger Delta stakeholders meeting in Effurun was, they both are meant to justify money they hope to obtain from government. The High Command of the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate uses this medium to alert the world to disregard this fraud. We have our means of communicating, definitely not a call.”

Titled “Clark and Co at Ut Again”, the statement further advised the Nigerian security agencies to go after those who allegedly claimed to have made telephone contact with the NDGJM through the said Odu said to be its leader.

“When we make our next ‘LOUD’ statement, they (security agencies) should go after ODU, who just claimed to be the leader of the mandate”, it said.

The statement also denounced what it called “an Urhobo group, thus the frequent and deliberate characterisation as such by a section of the media”; it claimed that the erroneous tag on the group has prompted “a reckless military invasion of some Urhobo communities”.

It restated its earlier call that residents around oil and gas installations in its target areas should vacate them, saying only it had no immediate plans to halts hostilities.

According to the statement, “We are warning and at the same time appealing to residents around major oil and gas facilities across our region to please evacuate immediately. This warning has become necessary because of the fact that we do not wish any of our people, for whom we have taken up this crusade, to become casualties of our campaign. All the marked facilities in all the states have been rigged with explosives at strategic points, waiting to be detonated. We are only being slowed down because of the presence of those still living close by. This struggle will only cease when the adversarial Nigerian system yields to reason.”