Mend under fire over attack threat

2009-10-18
THE VANGUARD NEWSPAPER - Emma Amaize, George Onah & Samuel Oyadongha


MEND under fire over attack threat

By Emma Amaize, George Onah and Samuel Oyadongha

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, is drawing flak from its former commanders who recently gave up arms, after its threat, on Friday, to resume attacks on oil installations in the country.

Other stakeholders in the region including the Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark and Henry Okah are also rallying against fresh hostilities in the area. They want the people and MEND to give government at least six months to prove its sincerity before it can be taken on on its promises.

The group in a one paragraph e-mail statement said: “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) resumes its hostilities against the Nigerian Armed Forces and its collaborators with effect from 00.00 hrs Friday, October 16, 2009.


This was at the expiration of its 90-day cease fire during which it expected government to address the issues that triggered the armed attacks three years ago.

It also set up a committee made up of Vice Admiral Mike Akhigbe (rtd) and Professor Wole Soyinka among others to negotiate on its behalf with the Federal Government.
Government however refused to recognise or negotiate with the team, preferring to concentrate on repentant militants giving up arms in return for amnesty.
Though the group has lost a number of its field commanders and fighters to the Federal Government amnesty, it is still considered a threat given the secrecy surrounding its operations.

* It’s a paper tiger – Boyloaf
For ex militant leader, Ebikabowei Ben Victor alias Gen Boyloaf, a former field commander of the group in Bayelsa State, MEND is nothing but a paper tiger whose threat should not be taken seriously.

“What you see of MEND today is just an individual pushing out those write-ups through the internet, which is a reflection of the frustration on his part. They threatened on the 15th (of September 2009). What happened? Who is ready to fight? Nobody will fight. They just sit down in their hotels, with laptops in front of them and without the consent of any other person. Forget such people anyway, they are paper-tigers.”

Another MEND commander in the Koluama flank of Bayelsa State on the Atlantic fringe, Pastor Reuben Wilson, said any fresh outbreak of hostilities would not be in the interest of the region. He asked the group to rescind its threat given the commitment of President Yar’Adua to develop the Niger Delta.

“This is the time for our people to embrace peace once and for all. The world is today aware of the problem of the Niger Delta. The plight of our people is known and the Federal Government has, for the first time, shown genuine commitment to addressing the issues raised by our people and it will only be proper for MEND to give peace a chance,” ex militant leader Wilson said.

Also reacting to the threat of fresh out break of hostilities in the region, Joseph Ambadekeremo, a minority rights activist and coordinator of South-South Element Progressive Union, urged MEND to rescind its planned offensive against the nation economic interest saying the world has moved away from armed struggle in settling contentious issues with aggrieved parties now resorting to dialogue in addressing issues.

“It is a pity that we are still talking of armed attack at this time when everybody the world over is pursing peaceful resolution of grievances and conflict. MEND or whoever they are should know by now that armed struggle should be over and the struggle is now an intellectual struggle and should be left intellectuals.


“I say so against the backdrop of what we have today on ground. We have not fared better since the arms insurrection and any continuation of violence will further impoverish our people and the region. Therefore we should all give President Umaru Yar’Adua the necessary support he deserves at this time to succeed. If the President fails then we should be ready to share in the blame.”

The founding Director of the Ijaw Council for Human Rights and one of the architects of the now famous Kaiama Declaration, Patterson Ogon, in his reaction called for caution saying the President has shown genuine commitment to the development of the region and as such deserves the support of every Niger Deltan to actualise his plan for the region.

His words, “The Federal Government has made a sluggish start to building peace in the delta. Given the fact that several key figures in the militant struggle of the Niger Delta have bought into the amnesty offer, we are certain that the internal building blocks for development will begin to flower.

“While we have taken the challenge this far, it is only proper that we remain calm and vigilant and see the next steps the Federal Government takes.

“The world is watching and the government knows that increasing its belligerent posture against the Niger Delta people will tell on it. I’ll advise MEND to also review their position on resuming attacks of oil installations so that the government will have no excuse to withhold implementation of the development plans for the region.”

* Ignore them – Tompolo
On his part, ex-militant, Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo speaking through Paul Bebenimibo said: “As far as we are concerned, that is a baseless one because we don’t know where it is coming from at this time when the key players have embraced the presidential amnesty”.

“People should ignore that declaration and begin to do those things that will bring enduring peace and development to the Niger Delta region,” the spokesman told AFP.
The government said last week that more than 8,000 militants had surrendered their arms under the amnesty including many of MEND’s leading fighters.


A cross section of Niger Delta militants, affiliated to Tompolo, who embraced the Federal Government's amnesty programme and surrendered their arms in Arogbo town in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
MEND ordered a truce in July to allow for possible talks with President Umaru Yar’Adua’s government. It set up a committee — which included 1986 Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka – to run negotiations, but no formal talks are known to have taken place yet.

The group rejected the government’s amnesty offer, which it described as a “charade”, saying it failed to address the key issues of under-development and injustice in the Niger Delta.

A prominent ethnic Ijaw leader and former information minister, Edwin Clark, urged the rebels to hold their fire.

“We are appealing to MEND not to resume hostilities. They should give peace a chance,” Clark told AFP.

Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, a spokeswoman for a panel overseeing the amnesty exercise, urged MEND to follow the action of their ex-fellow combatants who have embraced peace.

“I sincerely hope that MEND respects the wish of Nigerians… to end a chapter of violent struggle and participate in addressing fundamental issues for the healing growth of he Niger Delta and Nigeria,” she said.

In the last three years Nigeria’s oil output has been cut from 2.6 million barrels a day to 1.7 million currently. It has now been equalled by Angola as Africa’s top exporter.
And in the last year, Nigeria has also seen its foreign exchange reserves drop from more than 67 billion dollars to 40 billion.

Hundreds of oil workers, including dozens of foreigners, have been kidnapped by MEND and other groups in the Delta region. It has attacked pipelines and offshore facilities and even Lagos harbour.

Although there is no precise death toll, several hundred fighters and civilians have been killed in the region since 2006.

Clark, Okah intervene - Jomo Gbomo
MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo confirmed to Sunday Vanguard online that appeals had been pouring in from prominent Niger-Deltans, including the Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark and Henry Okah, asking it not to resume hostilities.

However, he said since the Federal Government was not prepared to dialogue with the Aaron team set up by the body to chart a way forward, it had no option than to resume hostilities.

His words, “We have started receiving appeals to extend the deadline and the latest appeal has come from Chief E. K. Clark…Henry Okah has also appealed for an extension of the ceasefire and believes the government will see reason to engage the Aaron Team in constructive dialogue on the root issues”.

Chief Clark confirmed to Sunday Vanguard on phone that he contacted the MEND not to resume fresh attacks and even though it had decided otherwise, he was still appealing to the group to reconsider its stand.

He said he spoke to Henry Okah to be part of the post-amnesty programme and told him not to harbour the feeling that anybody was slighting him in the affairs of the region.

Former national chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities Organization of Nigeria, Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu , however, told Sunday Vanguard , There is no need for MEND to start any fresh hostility, they should wait a while, give the Federal Government between six months and one year to find out whether they are really prepared to do what they are saying or not before talking about taking up arms again”.

But Ohanaeze chieftain and former Biafran General, Chief Joseph Achuzia, asked the Federal Government to dialogue with the MEND through the Aaron committee if it truly wanted peace in the Niger-Delta, saying there was no point discussing with people who had no mandate to speak for or represent the group.

The Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta , Major-General Sarkin Yarkin-Bello told Sunday Vanguard there was no need for MEND to resume further hostilities and advised the militants to support the post –amnesty programme of President Yar’Adua, as destruction of oil installations would not bring development to the region.

No, no, MEND should not start any fresh war – Clark
Chief Clark said the fact that Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, Ateke Tom, Boyloaf, Fara Dagogo, Shoot-At-Sight, Young Africa, Ogunbos and others surrendered their arms did not mean that there were no other people in MEND that refused to surrender arms, saying the declaration of resumption of fresh hostilities by some unrepentant militants was, therefore, not surprising.

He said his appeal to Henry Okah was that nobody was ignoring him and he should, therefore, be part of the peace process because what everybody is saying at the moment is that MEND should give peace a chance and Okah should be part of the discussions with the government.

The Niger-Delta leader noted that the Federal Ministry of Niger-Delta and the Niger-Delta Development Commission had not lived up to expectations in the last few months and urged President Umaru Yar’Adua to find out what is wrong and plug the loopholes.

He said it was not enough for the Federal Ministry of Niger-Delta in particular to advertise its plan to award contracts on the pages of newspapers and go to sleep, as if that means that the contracts have been awarded and work going on, the ministry should put its act together and let the people see action, otherwise, it should be called to order.

Chief Clark also said it was bizarre the government was still keeping the report of the Ledum Mitee Committee, which reviewed all the previous reports on the region, starting from the 1958 Willinks Commission Report and gave step-by-step recommendations on the way forward under the table, nine months after it was submitted, when the right thing to do was to publish it and take action on it.

The former Federal Commissioner for Information said it was not the case of giving the government one year to see that they can do, adding, “they should start something and let us see what they are doing between now and December, nobody is saying that they should develop the region overnight, but, they should start massive development of the region, it’s not only the boys that are angry, we , the elders and the entire people of the Niger-Delta are angry about our underdevelopment and deprivation”.

MEND should give peace a chance – HRH Ayemi- Botu

Pere Ayemi-Botu, who is the traditional ruler of Seimbiri kingdom in Delta State said: “I don’t know MEND. We are onlookers but those we know were MEND generals and commanders have accepted amnesty. One of the them is Victor Ebikabowei Ben, alias Boyloaf who told the world that the MEND we have now is a phantom MEND and so, whoever is threatening war in the name of this phantom MEND should please give peace a chance”.

“MEND should not fight an unjust war. Everybody in Niger-Delta wants peace and that is what we are stand on. They should sheathe their swords and let’s us see what the Federal Government is prepared to do. They (MEND) should not throw spanner in the wheels of progress.

He, however said the Federal Government was too slow in making clear its plans for the region, saying that by now, it should have come out with a clear-cut policy direction for the region in terms of infrastructural development.

“At the moment, there is no blueprint, there is nothing to hold and say this is the Federal Government’s action plan for the region. Even the report of the Niger-Delta Technical Committee headed by Mr. Ledum Mitee has been abandoned, nothing has been done about it since it was submitted, last year, 2008 and 2009 is almost ending”, he said.

FG is discussing with wrong people

Chief Achuzia in his comments said, “You don’t expect MEND, which voluntarily announced a ceasefire and the government refused to open dialogue with it within the period even after it was postponed for another 30 days not to announce resumption of hostilities, that is expected. Government should have discussed with the Aaron team set up by the militant group within the period instead of discussing with people that are not representing its interest. That is the problem in my judgment”.

He said some people were busy claiming glory for the success of the amnesty programme instead of focusing on why the leadership of MEND, which is the main militant group in the region, has refused to embrace the amnesty programme.

Why we’ll continue with hostilities – MEND
But MEND’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo said the militant group was going ahead with its planned hostilities, warning that anybody assuring the oil companies that all was well was deceiving them.

His words, “The only reason the oil companies and the government still tremble at our threats is because they have come to realize from experience that we demonstrate rather than explicate”.

On when exactly the hostilities would commence, he said, “Times have changed and our strategy has also been upgraded. We will not reveal information on attacks but from the time the ceasefire lapses; there will be a resumption of hostilities”.

Asked why the group chose to now raze oil installations, he said, “Burning down installations will hasten development and emancipation. A majority of our people understand that what they are witnessing is not the solution to real peace and development, but more of development for other regions and persons who will benefit from the kick-backs from over inflated contracts from white elephant projects. We will not give them that enabling environment.

Since the hunter can shoot without missing, the birds have learned to fly without perching. Our offensive will be unpredictable but effective in hastening the exodus of the region from bondage”.

Commenting on why the militant group did not wait for its Aaron team to finish discussions with government before declaring resumption of hostilities, he said, “The government has said it does not recognize the group and the Minister of Defence tried to ridicule the Aaron Team so they obviously are not ready to dialogue on the root issues”.

“What is the way forward?” He said, “The only way forward for the region is true federalism. Whatever was agreed in that meeting is not binding on the real freedom fighters who have resolved to continue fighting until justice is achieved.

The word “development” is the catchment phrase being used to deceive our people. After waiting for over 50 years, we want more than development and as such we do not believe the government has done enough except it introduces back fiscal federalism”.

His words, “We have said it in very simple terms that the root issues must address through dialogue and since the government has refused to talk, we have resolved to respond with the only language that they seem to respond to and that is violence”.
“What of if the Federal Government decides to use ex-militant leaders to sabotage the operations of the militant group?”

He said, “Will they be given weapons to become security men or will they work side by side the JTF? Aside from a few individuals who accepted amnesty for money, the suggestion will be considered ludicrous to others”.

On the Aaron team, he said, “The eminent Nigerians who accepted to mediate are not fools. The issues they will talk about are not jokes either. If the president is sincere, let him invite them to open discussions on those issues now that he has a window of relative calm or he will be begging for them in an atmosphere of war”.



65 Responses for “MEND under fire over attack threat”
Barikpoa says:
October 18, 2009 at 8:59 pmThe govt is not sincere, everyone thought by now we would have seen the developmental plan of the niger delta. Ignoring the aaron team and looking for pple that they will bride is enough evidence of their insincerity. No body should deceide u that the so called ex-militant will war against MEND, but they must say something considering their position now. But why is our govt stubborn? GOD HELP US IN NAIJA
J Brian says:
October 18, 2009 at 8:32 pmKill Everybody! Blow Up all the Pipelines, Raze Down every Oil Platform/Installations…completely annihilate Oil Production in Nigeria…….After all these deed is done and devastating blows are meted out to the Nigerian Government/People…..In the Final Analysis….What have you Gained?..Just What will you gain? …..Just what will you go back home with?….How have you saved the Niger Delta/Deltans?…What have you contributed towards the development you so claim to crave?….Perhaps something to ponder about for MEND!
sins of Nigeria says:
October 18, 2009 at 8:27 pmthe Nigerian nation has from the time of exploration of crude in the niger delta maginalised, balkanised, impoverished and loathed the niger delta people. without a doubt the niger delta is a neglected region, this is quite clear by the policy framework of successive governments. Really Nigeria is reaping the evil fruits it planted years ago. And this will continue until the Niger delta question is answered by a genuine resolve of govt to address the cores issues, really amnesty is not a solution to niger delta problem. development of the region is the solution.

ED Tee says:
October 18, 2009 at 8:09 pmMEND’s consistence and flawless actions is sending a serious but direct message to the world that its actions are not for money mongering, none is it individual’s personal aggrandizements like its many comrades, but the aim to pursuit a campaign that will leads to resolving the roots cause of the Niger Delta crisis that has lingered on for decades.

MEND’s exhibition of well defined principles, convictions, and resilience to negative pressures and act of inducements from both its kinsmen and a corrupt system have shown that after all, there are still some individuals, organizations out there that can still be trusted to handle the affairs of the people in an atmosphere of justice and equity.

We can see that MEND as a group knows so much about the politics of Nigeria the extent that their predictions are true ninety percent of the time, and like they also been saying that peaceful resolution is preferable to them but is the least workable and most costly option as far as Nigeria is concern. But the armed campaigns if pursuit vigorously and effectively is a easy means to a lasting resolution.
We can see that while so many have succumb to bribing with huge amount of oil money that actually make them look terribly stupid, acts stupid, and talk stupid. Thereby endangering themselves with Nigeria Kleptocrats that careless about anything excepts the continue flow of oil to generate funds into corrupt coffer, despite all that, MEND remains so committed to the roots cause of the crisis that can easily leads to peace in the long wrong.
One thing we should follow is history, for history has shown that no single or few individuals has the power to kill the Niger Delta struggle, unless every Niger Delta person is put to grave. The struggle of Niger Delta has been around for decades before the Okan’s, the Ateke’s, the Dokubo’s, the Tompolo’s, the Boyloaf’s, and all the other field generals and will remain so until the roots cause of the struggle is finally address and resolved in an open transparent way.
Grand Master says:
October 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm@ True Igbo Man

Am with you 100%.

The fact that people cannot see is evident. NIGERIA IS A FAILED STATE. The north and their stooge Yara knows this so they are simply grabbing what they can before the boat sinks.
thats why they have chased Ribadu and installed Waziri, put Aoondoka to provide legal cover and place Anenih at the ports. Its embezzlement galore.

MEND is the only true challenger to this. The hausa-fulani has simply put amnesty in place to buy them atleast 2 years so they can loot before the Nigeria project closes in 2012. Those bafoons that are agreeing with giving FG time to implement their so called development plans into place are simply fools that cant see.

even during OBJ there was a sense of nation. now nothing.

Please MEND bring the oil industry to a standstill. Thats the only way Nigeria can be saved from this cannibals.

 

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