By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”As President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua unveils modalities for the granting of amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta, the foremost insurgent group in the region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), yesterday declared that only the enthronement of true federalism in the country could guarantee peace in the troubled region.
The group, which dismissed the alleged move by some senior MEND commanders to accept by proxy federal governmentâ€™s amnesty, said it was an orchestrated rumour being peddled by agents and propagandists of the government to break its rank.
MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, while responding to Vanguard inquiry, said it was either the Presidentâ€™s amnesty will offer hope or dismay to the blighted region which for decades had been neglected by the Nigerian state.
His words: â€œThe Presidentâ€™s address will either offer hope or dismay. If he breaks away from the tradition and fear of the past where other regions are afraid of fiscal federalism then we have a problem on our hands.
If he makes a bold step, then Nigeria will turn around for the better.
â€œWe are preparing for war and for peace; depending on what he says. Either way, we are prepared to respond at short notice.
â€œWe hope the FGN will consider justice in every decision it makes because without it, every effort or development will come to nought and the circle will repeat itself at a later date. This is what we want to avoid.â€
The group, which resort to armed struggle has greatly impacted negatively on the nation crude oil production, wants an immediate return to true federalism in all its ramifications, which includes fiscal federalism.
MEND categorically denied what it described as the orchestrated rumors being peddled by government agents and propagandists that its senior commanders, Farah Dagogo, Boyloaf and Soboma George have accepted to receive amnesty by proxy as carried in some local newspapers.
â€œIt is a shame that the interior minister and his cohorts are offering bribes and incentives to militants in a desperate attempt to get our cooperation in sharing the N50 billion budgeted for the amnesty exercise.
â€œWhile it is true that some of us will succumb to the temptation of money as Judas did, there are a majority that will remain steadfast to integrity, honor and a commitment to the people who can not fight for their rights.
â€œWe want to reassure our people who are looking up to us that we will never compromise our birthright for a price.
â€œMEND is waiting to hear if President Yarâ€™Adua has anything new to offer in his expected address on Thursday, June 25, before responding accordingly.â€
Declaring that Hurricane Piper Alpha was still on course, MEND condemned the arrest of Asari Dokubo by security agents at the Murtala MuhammedÂ Airport in Lagos and requested for his unconditional release within the next 24 hrs.
â€œThe purported arrest of nine men linked to the Agip pipeline sabotage is a case of looking for scape goats by the JTF to calm the oil majors who have lost confidence in them.
Not one of the fighters who carried out the attack has been arrested,â€ it said.