By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Federal Government currently engaged in a dialogue through the oil companies and security agencies have reached far-reaching compromises, including the release of former militant leader, Henry Okah, in prison in South Africa and Charles Okah, incarcerated in Nigeria.
They also agreed that ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo , alias Tompolo, would not be harassed by government if he makes himself available as a delegate on MEND Aaron Team 2, while the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, would be released on condition that he renounces the agitation for “Biafra Republic.”
MEND in a statement by spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, today (Saturday) announced other breakthroughs in the discussions that will end the revolt in the South-South and South East regions in a jiffy.
However, it said the recalcitrant Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, still has opportunity to embrace peace failing which a combination of military forces and volunteers in the region, would smoke them out.
The statement read: “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is the only militant group from the Niger Delta region who are presently engaged in a dialogue with the Federal Government of Nigeria – through oil companies and security agencies -with a view to resolving the current Niger Delta crisis.”
“Thus far, the deliberations have been fruitful, various concessions and guarantees have already been secured. Some of which include, but are not limited to: Release of Henry Okah, Charles Okah and Obi Nwabueze; Review of the life sentence handed to Mr. Edmund Ebiware based on a proposal put forward by the Aaron Team representative for Abia and Imo states, Senator Adolphus Wabara.
“Also, conditional release of IPOB leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and others if they renounce their agitation for a “Biafra Republic,” the group said.
Furthermore, MEND said they agreed: “That Mr. Government Ekpemupolo shall not be arrested, harassed and/or intimidated whenever he makes himself available as a delegate of the MEND Aaron Team.”
It added: “That international arbitrator and conflict negotiator, American Dr. Judith Asuni shall be accepted as the representative of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) on the MEND Aaron Team; that the criminal charges against Urhobo freedom fighter, Mr. Kelvin Prosper Oniarah shall be reviewed.
“That the life sentence which was handed to seven soldiers in 2008, who actively supported the Niger Delta struggle be reviewed under the Presidential Amnesty Programme. The affected persons are: Suleiman Alabi Akubo, Major. Mathias Peter, SGT, Alexander Davou, L.Cpl., Moses Nwaigwe, L.Cpl., Nnandi Anene, L.Cpl. Taatihi Emmanuel, L.Cpl and Caleb Bawa, PTE,” it said. .
“However, one of the most immediate and urgent fallout of the ongoing dialogue is the imperative for the Federal Government and MEND to jointly and separately take proactive steps to rescue and secure the region. This is in the event that the recalcitrant Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) continuing on its senseless and politically-motivated path of attacks on the country’s oil assets,” it noted.
MEND asserted: “To this end, both parties agreed that the Special Forces of the Nigerian Army should commence the purely routine but strategic military exercise code-named “Operation Crocodile Tears”; while MEND would commence a meet-the Government-Actors-and-People tour of the Niger Delta region code-named “Operation Moses”.