Clark not qualified to lead dialogue with FG, says MEND

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, on Sunday, said the Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark, lacked the moral authority to be championing restructuring of the country.

MEND, also alleged that Clark and the other leaders of the region kept quiet during the six-year administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

In a statement signed by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, on Sunday, the defunct militant group called on the Federal Government to ignore the resolution reached at Friday’s Niger Delta stakeholders consultative meeting held at the Petroleum Training Institute Conference Centre Effurun, Delta State.

The statement said among other things, that the leaders of the region failed to categorically condemn the criminal and treasonable activities of the Niger Delta Avengers which had claimed responsibility for series of attacks on oil facilities in the region.

MEND, while reiterating its support for the use of the military against the militants in the region, said those who attended the meeting lacked the capacity to persuade the people of the Niger Delta to support the current efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to bring peace and development to the region

The statement added, “MEND hereby advises the Federal Government to ignore the communiqué which was released at the end of the meeting for the following reasons: The communiqué failed to categorically condemn the criminal and treasonable activities of the Niger Delta Avengers. This was principally because, the notable promoter of the meeting, Chief Edwin Clark, was recently named by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers as a major supporter of the NDA.

“Chief Edwin Clark lacks the moral authority to lead a discussion on the so-called “re-structuring” of the Nigerian federation, at this critical point in the country’s history; given the fact that, throughout the six years his “son”, former President Goodluck Jonathan, was in power the elder statesman kept mute and actively participated in the economic dismemberment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In fact, Chief Clark’s Abuja residence was an extension of the State House.”

It added, “None of the persons who attended the stakeholders’ meeting convened by Chief Clark and Governor Okowa have the capacity to persuade the people of the Niger Delta region to support the current efforts of the Buhari Administration to bring peace and development to the region.

“Consequently, MEND re-iterates its full support for the ongoing military presence in the Niger Delta region; even as we prepare to tour the region to drum support for the current administration in an exercise code-named ‘Operation Moses.’

“MEND shall continue to insist that; so long as these elders and stakeholders do not categorically and publicly denounce the NDA, the Federal Government should also continue to ignore them.”

But following the outcome of the meeting, NDA in an electronic mail to our correspondent, announced a ceasefire and pledged to support any dialogue under the watch of Clark, who was also a convener of the meeting.

The statement signed by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, said, “ We are going to support any collective/negotiation team emerging from the Chief (Dr.) Papa Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, Niger Delta elders and genuine stakeholders conference to engage with the Federal Government of Nigeria, representatives from the home countries of all multinational oil corporations and neutral international mediators that will be focused on achieving the short, medium and long term frameworks and objectives to de-escalating conflicts in the Niger Delta.

“We are going to continue the observation of our unannounced cessation of hostilities in the Niger Delta against all interest of the multinational oil corporations, but we will continuously adopt our asymmetric warfare during this period if, the Nigerian government and the ruling APC continue to use security agencies/agents, formations and politicians to arrest, intimidate, invade and harass innocent citizens, suspected NDA members and invade especially Ijaw communities.”

The stakeholders among other things after the meeting agreed to set up a negotiation team made up of ‘credible leaders’ to dialogue with the Federal Government on behalf of the militant groups in the region.

Meanwhile, the Urhobo Monitoring and Development Group, has hailed the ceasefire, calling on the Federal Government to key into the window and dialogue with all militant groups and the people of the region for a lasting peace.

The group’s President, Mr. Kingsley Oberuruaria, maintained that the physical development of the region should take centre stage of any discussion of any possible talk, stressing that the underdevelopment of the region had always being the reason for arms struggle in the area.