The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, an armed group that engaged the Nigerian government in the past, has broken its silence and has condemned the recent spate of attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region.
In a statement Sunday signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, MEND said it had carried out “rigorous and robust analysis, debate and review of political events in Nigeria within the past 12 months; particularly as they affect the Niger Delta region” and resolved to continue to respect the ceasefire declared May 30, 2014 against key economic interests of the Nigerian State.
The group said the “painful but necessary resolution” to respect the ceasefire was borne out of its belief that as President Muhammadu Buhari marks his first year in office, he deserves more time to stabilize the country that, it was “run aground by the ill-fated, corrupt and visionless immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan which pauperized the Nigerian people to the alarming degree we all experience today”.
“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to condemn and dissociate itself from the recent activities carried out by a group known as the ‘Niger Delta Avengers,” the group said.
“Their sudden emergence has absolutely nothing to do with the Niger Delta struggle but rather a tool by certain elements to destabilise the current government,” MEND said.
It said going by the group’s actions and subsequent statements, it was apparent who the sponsors of the recent attackers were.
MEND also said the Niger Delta region shall not be part of a secessionist Biafran State.
“Rather, the group believes in one strong united Nigerian federation where the principles and ideals of Resource Control; True Federalism; Rule of Law/Respect for Human Rights; Democracy; Free Enterprise and a Vibrant Civil Society are well entrenched in the grundnorm and put to practice,”it said
However, MEND said it remained opposed to the “fraudulent and unsustainable Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) headed by Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd) which still runs on the corrupt bureaucratic and operational template of the past administration”.
“We have always made it very clear that unless the root issues which gave birth to the agitations in the Niger Delta region are addressed, in the form of a sincere dialogue, this programme will only continue to remain a mere cesspool of corruption,” the group said.
“In order to create an enabling environment for dialogue on the Niger Delta question, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) urges President Muhammadu Buhari to release the Okah Brothers – Henry and Charles who were arrested in 2010 on trumped-up charges. The release of Henry and Charles Okah will be key to any form of dialogue in helping to bring stability to the volatile region,” it added.