More militant groups declare ceasefire in Niger Delta
• Want harassment of members stopped
• Fighters attack oil pipeline in Warri
More militant groups in the Niger Delta have announced ceasefire, on a condition that security agencies should stop forthwith harassment and intimidation of their suspected members.
But peace is still elusive as yet another group, Niger Delta Greenland and Justice Mandate, has attacked a major delivery line operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in Udu Local Council of Delta State. The group also warned that no repair should be carried out on the damaged pipeline.
Following the Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark-led peace initiative in the region, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) had, at the weekend, resolved to end all forms of hostilities, including jettisoning its avowed plan to declare a republic.
The group’s spokesman, Brig-Gen. Mudoch Aginigbo, announced on Saturday that it was ending hostilities and would support the peace initiative.
Also following the Pan Niger Delta Coastal States Consultative Meeting convened by Clark, the Reformed Egbesu Fraternities comprising Egbesu Boys of the Niger Delta, Egbesu Red Water Lions and Egbesu Mightier Fraternity announced yesterday a 60-day ceasefire.
They commended the convener and all the traditional rulers who participated in the meeting which the militant groups said reviewed the bombing campaigns against critical oil infrastructure and realised they were hurting not only Nigeria but Niger Deltans as well.
The Spokesmen of the Reformed Egbesu Fraternities, General Tony Alagbakeriowei and Commander Ebi Abakoromor, however underscored the big place of the neglected region in the country’s political economy. “ We are conscious of the fact that the Niger Delta alone accounts for 70 per cent of the annual national budget, 67 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and 80 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange, yet the Niger Delta has nothing to show and remains plagued by serious environmental degradation and social dislocation of our traditional and customary rights.
“Between 1957 and 2016, over two trillion barrels of the finest quality and grade as well as 1.2 trillion SCF of gas have been exploited and exported from the Niger Delta, yet we remain the poorest in all ramifications among all the oil- and gas-producing regions the world over.
“Angered by the above basic facts and worsened by the realisation that over 90 per cent of the Oil Mining Leases (OML) are owned by Northerners and the South West indigenes, we commenced our symbolic protests in the creeks with a view to unilaterally declaring a sovereign state of the Niger Delta on August 1, 2016.
“Aware that our collective strength and efforts no doubt have had a very negative impact on the economy of the country, coupled with our commitment and determination to continue with our bombing of oil and gas infrastructure and the declaration of the Niger Delta Peoples Republic, we have been pressured and appealed to by the Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders Consultative Meeting convened by Chief Dr E. K. Clark and most importantly, the Niger Delta Dialogue Contact Group led by His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diette Spiff.
“Nigerians from all shades of opinion pleaded that we come to the negotiation table. In view of the persistent pleas and appeals, we the Consultative Council of the Reformed Egbesu Fraternities unilaterally declare cessation of hostilities for a period of 60 days to enable the Niger Delta stakeholders to commence an all-embracing dialogue with the Federal Government.
“However, under this 60-day period, we call on all relevant security agencies to stop forthwith all military harassment and intimidation of suspected members of these and other organisations.
“We caution against the preconceived notion of the service chiefs of the armed forces who had persistently stated recourse to military option if dialogue fails. This, to the best of our knowledge, is an act of intimidation and a ploy to truncate the negotiation process if at all there is sincerity and commitment on the part of the Federal Government,” the group said.
In a statement, the Niger Delta Greenland and Justice Mandate said: “The formidable strike team in charge of ‘Operation Zero’ brought down another major trunk/delivery line operated by NPDC in Udu Local Council area (Urhobo) of Delta State. We would also like to warn that no repair should take place on that pipeline pending when signals come from us.
“Peace cannot be realised in an unjust environment. Like we said from the onset, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate is not just about causing calamity and delighting in chaos, rather a child of circumstance, born to correct an injustice that has lived with us, from the time of our fathers.”
‘‘We are in this struggle, not to create any acrimony with our friends and brothers in the riverine axis, who are equal citizens of this over-sapped region, but to call the attention of the world to our peculiar experience; that we, as people of diverse tongues and orientation, have kept faith with both the Nigerian government and oil multinationals over the years, by being peaceful, patient and law-abiding all through the years, but have in turn been abused and abandoned by these same supposed partners. They have all along taken our quietness and disposition for peace and choice for orderliness for granted. We have watched and seen that they only encourage lawlessness and violence.’’