For peace to reign in the Niger Delta, some militant groups have urged the Federal Government to reopen the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State.
Following the celebrated ceasefire declared by some militant groups, the fighters are calling for a review of the peace process initiated by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark.
While the Niger Delta Greenland and Justice Mandate (NDGJM vowed to “carry out more deadly attacks until the right thing is done”, the Bayelsa State-based Iduwini Volunteer Force (IVF) threatened that its fighters would continue to bomb oil pipelines if the university is not reopened.
The IVF listed six demands that must be met by the government, including an unconditional release of detained militants. It accused the authorities of being insincere with the peace process. The Spokesman of the group, Commander Johnson Biboye, in a statement, said the government would only prove its sincerity by releasing the detainees.
According to him, members of the IVF held a protracted meeting, which started in the evening of August 21, 2016 and ended in the early hours of August 22, 2016, in the creeks. He said the group deliberated extensively on the security situation in the Niger Delta, as well as the efforts of notable leaders to seek peace and dialogue in resolving the crisis.
The statement said :“The group commended President Muhammadu Buhari; first military governor of the old Rivers State and Chairman, Niger Delta Dialogue Committee King Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff; Chief Dr. Edwin Kiagbodo Clark; Chief Dr. Wellington Okirika; Bolowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Prince Mike Emuh, National Chairman Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSCON) and very many other leaders for their untiring efforts at ensuring that peace prevails in the Niger Delta, even at the detriment of their safety and that of their families.”
Lauding the efforts of the leaders, the IVF insisted that all freedom fighting groups in the region should embrace peace “as a mark of honor to the concerted efforts of these our notable leaders in enhancing the peace process.”
But the spokesman of the NDGJM, General Aldo Agbalaja, described the meeting convened by Clark and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State in Warri last Friday as a charade. He alleged the conveners were the same people who mismanaged the region under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Agbalaja advised the Federal Government to embrace the Niger Delta Dialogue Contact Group (NDDCG) led by the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, Alfred Diete-Spiff, which, according to him, has the commitment of some international agencies.
“We would rather the Federal Government builds on this group to reach out to the genuine representatives of the people of the region, to discuss the way forward because we believe what is worth doing at all is worth doing well,” NDGJM said.
The upland-based militants said they were carrying on with their avowed campaign to sabotage oil and gas interests until the Federal Government “does what is right for the people.”
It insisted that “only a credibly convened conference of Niger Delta stakeholders, made up of real, grass-rooted representatives from the six core Niger Delta states can call for dialogue on behalf of the region.”