The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) on June 12, Sunday, had announced the set up of the team for the talks with Federal government over Niger Delta crisis, Sahara Reporters reports.
Jomo Gbomo, the spokesperson of the group, in a statement said that the move came after useful preliminary talks held with high-ranking officials of the incumbent government.
Members of the team comprise Henry Odein Ajumogobia SAN (Rivers); Bismark Rewane (Delta); Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River); Timipa Jenkins Okponipere (Bayelsa); Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom); Ledum Mitee (Rivers); and Lawson Omokhodion (Edo state).
The group stated that on countless occasions in the past 10 years of the MEND’s existence, it had taken up weapons against the Nigerian state and the global oil companies with a view to bringing to national and world attention, the pathetic paradox of the oil-rich region.
MEND said some of its ex commanders and fighters make up the Avengers, claims which have been rejected by the group. Security officials have also linked a MEND commander to the Avengers, though he denied such links.
The statement further reads: “Our message to the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is simple: The Niger Delta struggle is beyond attacks on oil installations.
“Indeed, prior to the MEND ceasefire; the group had, among numerous daring attacks, on Thursday, June 19, 2008, successfully carried out the spectacular attack on Royal Dutch Shell’s offshore Bonga oilfield which is located at a whooping distance of 120 kilometres (75miles) south-west of the Niger Delta.”
“If indeed your cause is to avenge the injustice done to the Niger Delta region; then, we urge you to ceasefire and join us to the table of negotiation with the Federal government; otherwise, the Niger Delta struggle shall be hijacked, once again, by selfish interests for their own personal aggrandizement,” the group told the Niger Delta Avengers.
“One such example is the recent purported NDA demand made through the region’s governors that the Federal government should drop charges of corruption against certain individuals and politicians from the region. This absurd and ridiculous demand, to say the least, is far removed from the Niger Delta struggle.”
Nigeria’s oil minister Ibe Kachikwu said earlier that the Buhari administration would commence negotiations with the NDA, which has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in the Niger Delta.
However, the militant group rejected an offer of talks with the government to end its attacks on oil facilities and said it had blown up a Chevron pipeline site.
Attacks by the group on oil and gas pipelines in the southern delta swamps have brought Nigeria’s oil output to a 20-year low and assisted to push oil prices to 2016 highs.
At the same time, Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force announced ceasefire and unveiled fresh demands to the Federal government.