By Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday condemned in strong terms, the renewed hostilities by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
The group at the weekend claimed responsibility for the bombing of Bonny pipeline in Rivers State.
MEND also dissociated itself from the ‘holier than thou’ and arrogant attitude of the Pan-Niger Delta Group over the proposed Niger Delta Summit convened by the federal government.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, MEND said the renewed hostilities by the NDA was unstable, destructive and stemmed from an immature behaviour.
The statement read: “MEND also condemns in very strong terms the unstable, destructive and immature behaviour of the NDA which resumed hostilities at the slightest lame excuse.
“We believe that the right approach would have been to attend this summit as a precursor to future intensive interactions and dialogue with government. A boycott at this stage, in our opinion was rather hasty.
“Considering that this government has been opened to the subject of dialogue with a people whose majority sold their birth rights for monthly stipends under a fraudulent amnesty programme, whose elders, traditional rulers, tribal assemblies, political class, activists and clergy turned a blind eye and kept mute during the six years of plenty and unmitigated corruption and looting while their own son and daughter were at the helm.
“The Pan-Niger Delta Group on behalf of the Niger Delta people should go to the summit in shame and sober reflection while singing the praise of President Muhammadu Buhari like the women of Israel sang in praise of David.
“All we are demanding from the present administration today are valid issues during the past administration of a son of the soil Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, which were never seen as urgent during his tenure to be addressed.
“MEND will remain in the Pan-Niger Delta Group in spite of the presence of some vultures whose names have sprung up from nowhere to our surprise.
“We use this opportunity to notify the public that the former secretary of the disbanded MEND AARON TEAM 2, Mr. Timipa Jenkins Okponipere, who was named alongside Messrs. Ledum Mitee and Ibanga Isine to represent the group in the Chief Clark-led Pan-Niger Delta Group has been dropped due to differences that are in complete variance with the MEND principles which frowns on corruption by public officials and their spouses and places premium on integrity.”
On his part, Clark berated members of the NDA, maintaining that there was no justification for last Friday’s attack on Bonny trunklines.
He therefore condemned the bombing when the 60 days ceasefire ultimatum had not expired.
Clark, who is the leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum, noted that there was no justification for the renewed bombing against the backdrop that the 60-day cessation of hostilities as put together by the forum had not elapsed.
The elder statesman, in a statement issued in Abuja, condemned in totality the bombing of Bonny trunkline which he described as ill-motivated and advised the militant group to put a stop to such attack.
“It has come to the attention of the Niger Delta Royal fathers, elders and leaders of thought that the NDA have claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Bonny Export (48) inch pipeline on Friday, September 23, 2016.
”We condemn in totality this ill- motivated and ill- advised rampaging in the bombing by the NDA. Even though the federal government has not constituted its negotiating team as articulated by the Pan-Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum, the 60-day cessation of hostilities has not elapsed. Therefore, there was no justification for further bombing, such as the one that took place last Friday.
“We repeat our appeal which was contained in our collective response to the summit on the Niger Delta convened by the office of the vice president published at page eight of Leadership Newspaper of Saturday, September 24, 2016, and at page 9 of Saturday Vanguard of September 24, 2016 that “all the armed agitators to continue with the cessation of hostilities and remain calm and peaceful, even in the face of obvious provocation. We shall maintain this position,” he added.