Avengers split over planned dialogue with FG

The Niger Delta Avengers on Wednesday appeared divided over whether or not to engage in a dialogue with the Federal Government over the crisis in the geopolitical zone.

Niger Delta Avengers

While a self-acclaimed spokesperson for the Avengers, Mr. Ballantyne Agiri, said in a statement on Wednesday that the NDA was ready to enter into dialogue with the Federal Government for a possible ceasefire in the region, the Avengers in a counter-statement by Mudoch Agbinibo, denied the claim.

Agiri had in a statement mailed to one of our correspondents in Jos, the Plateau State capital on Wednesday, said that it had constituted a contact and dialogue group to engage the Federal Government in meaningful dialogue as part of the initiatives to resolve the crisis.

Agiri said that the group was determined to come out with results that would yield a lasting peace, equity, justice and harmony among all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.

While urging Nigerians and the international community to follow developments on the issue closely and watch out for which side would violate the terms, rules and spirit of the dialogue, Agiri said, “The body has collectively and willingly agreed to heed the clarion call of eminent Nigerians and international community to hold dialogue with the Federal Government.”

The statement added, “The Federal Government should from the inception of the dialogue rule out from the agenda any monthly monetary inducement or stipend for the NDA.

“The Federal Government should be ready for structural changes that should be human and development-oriented.

“Members of the Avengers’ group (who will participate in the dialogue) have already been selected, each based on his integrity, forthrightness, honesty and life track records.”

The group said that the names of members of the group for now would not be made public for personal reasons, until they begin functioning in few days ahead.

But the spokesman for the NDA, Agbinibo, while replying an enquiry by one of our correspondents, dismissed the idea, saying there was no iota of truth in Agiri’s claim.

It stressed that, “We are not going into any peace or dialogue talk.”

It added, “That report is not from us. We are not in any form of dialogue agreement with anybody. It’s like the government wants to dialogue with themselves.”

The group later went on to their twitter handle, operated by the spokesperson, Agbinibo, to also deny the purported agreement for talks.

The NDA also denied knowing Agiri, saying, “Who is Mr. Ballantyne Agiri, the claimed dialogue group spokesman? We don’t know you. And please, stop fooling the general public.

“We are not ready for any negotiation or dialogue with the Federal Government.”

The militant group has claimed responsibility for major attacks on oil facilities in the region in recent times.

Agiri had in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja claimed that the group had agreed to enter into a dialogue with the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the Presidency, on Wednesday said dialogue had always been an option by the Federal Government in its efforts aimed at resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.

“Dialogue had always been an option in resolving the Niger Delta issue,” the Presidential spokesman said.