By AlbertÂ Akpor &Lawani Mikairu, with agency reports
LAGOS â€” AS the countdown to the deadline for the amnesty granted Niger-Delta militants begins, the main rebel group in oil-rich region, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), says it will make public its decision after midnight on whether or not to renew its unilateral ceasefire which expired yesterday.
â€œThat decision will be made public after midnight tonight (yesterday),â€ MEND said in a response inquiries if the ceasefire will be extended or if attacks are to resume.
Meanwhile, the Navy has assured that it would do all within its capacity to provide adequate security around oil installations across the country. This assurance is coming on the heels of a fresh threat by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) to resume their attacks on oil installations following reports that the amnesty granted the Niger Delta militants was more of lip service.
The Director of Naval Information, Commodore David Nabaida, in a telephone chat yesterday said the navy was always prepared to provide security in and around oil installations across the country. According to Commodore Nabaida, it is the constitutional responsibility of the Navy to ensure that oil installations across the country were fully secured whether at peace or war times.â€
He said â€œI want to assure you that the navy has the constitutional responsibility to provide security in and around oil installations across the country. Whether MEND is threatening or not, the Navy is always ready and on ground to secure oil installations.
It is our duty.Â Ours is to protect these installations with all that we have; and that we must do.â€
MEND which has waged an â€œoil warâ€ targeting oil installations and the military deployed in the oil hub, declared in July a 60-day truce in response to a government offer for unconditional amnesty. The federal government had in August this year, granted amnesty to the restive Niger Delta militants on the condition that they embrace peace and surrender their arms and ammunition.
Consequently, one of the militant groups, the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta MEND unilaterally declared a three month ceasefire while watching the sincerity of the federal government. But two to the expiration of the ceasefire, the group issued a fresh threat to resume their hostilities if it becomes visibly clear that the amnesty granted them is a fluke.
The ceasefire came shortly after the release of its leader Henry Okah, who had been jailed for close to two years on charges of treason and gun-running.
MEND says it is fighting oil companies operating in the Delta and the federal authorities to ensure that the desperately impoverished people of the Niger Delta benefit from the oil income.
While some of militants have publicly denounced their activities and surrendered their arms, there are many other groups and factions yet undecided on the amnesty offer.
In August, MEND said of the ceasefire: â€œWe are prepared to keep it and even extend it if the conditions are encouraging.â€
The governmentâ€™s amnesty which began on August 6 runs through October 4.