Militant group endorses Buhari’s meeting with Niger Delta elders

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has endorsed the meeting between President Buhari and elders of the Niger Delta region.

The meeting which was earlier scheduled to hold on October 29, 2016, was moved to October 31, 2016.

This is coming as the Greenland Justice Mandate (GJM) asked President Buhari to call off his meeting with elders from the region.

GJM said it is not a wise decision to meet with the same people who allegedly caused the problem in the Niger Delta.

However, the spokesman of MEND, Jomo Gbomo, issued a statement saying “The forthcoming meeting vindicates MEND and Federal Government’s continued insistence and belief ab initio that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari meant well for the sustainable peace and development of the hitherto neglected Niger Delta region.”

“MEND reiterates that we were the first and only militant group in the Niger Delta region who were meaningfully and constructively engaged in talks with the Federal Government with a view to resolving the Niger Delta crisis; as duly confirmed by no less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari sometime in July, 2016 in his farewell remarks to the outgoing German Ambassador, Mr. Michael Zinner.

“Following the fruitful talks, several concessions were secured by both parties. For the federal government, the major concession they secured was that MEND pledged the group’s firm commitment to work assiduously to get all aggrieved militant groups in the region to ceasefire and line up behind a single umbrella body.

 “MEND duly kept to the terms of the agreement by leveraging on its vast contacts to prevail on militant groups, criminal elements amongst others to ceasefire and recognized Chief Edwin Clark to lead the Niger Delta region in proposed talks with the federal government.

 “The federal government, Nigerians and the international community would certainly agree that, as part of these concerted patriotic efforts by MEND within the preceding six months of this year, relative peace has since returned to the Niger Delta region. The country’s oil and gas production capacity has also increased tremendously.

“However, in spite of MEND efforts, the federal government is yet to keep to the terms of the agreement reached with the group. Indeed, one of the key concessions secured by MEND was that, the federal government would concede to the release of certain political prisoners, including but not limited to the Okah Brothers – Henry and Charles.

“Nevertheless, with news of the forthcoming meeting between President Buhari and the Chief Clark-led PANDEF, we are confident that the concessions already secured by MEND shall be respected by the federal government.

 “Consequently, we urge members of the Chief Edwin Clark-led PANDEF to put aside personal interests and ambitions of primitive aggrandizement. Rather, we implore them to realize that the Niger Delta region is at a zebra crossing and, therefore, they must remain steadfast and focused on their core mandate, to wit: restoration of sustainable and permanent peace and development of the region.”

Meanwhile, the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers has vowed to resist any form of what they described as modern colonisation of the Niger Delta.

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