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MEND resumes hostilities

MOVEMENT for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) announced yesterday resumption of fresh hostilities against the oil industry, the armed forces and its collaborators in the Niger Delta but one of the ex-militant leaders contacted by Saturday Vanguard said it was an empty noise.

On its part, the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger  Delta sued for peace, urging the militant group not to carry out any such attack in the overall interest of the country.
MEND in a paragraph statement by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, MEND stated, “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) resumes its hostilities against the Nigerian oil industry, the Nigerian armed forces and its collaborators with effect from 00:00Hrs, Friday, October 16, 2009”.

JTF spokesman, Lt. Colonel Atigha who spoke on the renewal of hostilities by the militant group told Vanguard that the task force was not at war with MEND or any other group of   Nigerians and would want the militants to support the post amnesty programmes and development efforts of President Umaru Yar’Adua in the region.

An ex-militant leader, however, said, “MEND cannot carry out any attack at the moment, who will carry it out, they don’t have the machinery to do it, they are only raking”.

Lt Colonel Atigha also shed light on Thursday’s purported attack on ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo along the Escravos River in Delta State , pointing out that it was not that men of the task force attacked Tompolo.

He  said the speed boat conveying Tompolo was on top speed and did not slow down for check by soldiers, prompting them to fire into the air, which was the normal practice to get the occupants to do the right thing.

Despite the JTF explanation, the Warri –Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group (WIPMG) insisted that it was an attack on Tompolo and warned in a statement by its chairman, Chief Patrick Bigha , yesterday, that the task force could  jeopardise the on-going peace process if not properly checked.

“Travellers have severally complained of the inhuman treatment of the JTF troops to them in recent times, they are harassed, embarrassed and sometimes shot at while travelling in the waterways. This is the second time in two weeks Tompolo has been harassed by military men on the waterways. First was the Naval gun ships at the Nigerian Ports Authorty(NPA)jetty”, he said.

“Urgent steps must be taken to call the JTF to order so as not to truncate the on-going peace process”, Chief Bigha stated.

On why MEND still went ahead to announce resumption of hostilities even when the option of dialogue has not been fully exhausted, a top official of the militant group told Saturday Vanguard, yesterday, “The one demand of MEND all through the campaign has been for a return to federalism within which they own and control their resources as it was up to 1966.

In making this demand , we  have lost faith in any offer of development by the centre, as that has not worked since the 1958 Willinks report up to NDDC,  Niger Delta Ministry, Niger  Delta Technical Report,  etc “.

In his words, “In furtherance of our  rights to self-determination, demand for a return to federalism, this is a point I want all stakeholders to  appreciate if progress will be made, we see the amnesty as flawed in that it has not at all addressed this root cause of our agitation”.

”MEND in naming the Aaron Team is not averse to dialogue and it would seem best that that window be explored  to seek common ground upon which sustainable peace can be built.

We gave them that chance but they ignored the Aaron team. Once that dialogue is opened and common ground found, MEND has consistently indicated it is prepared to be part of the peace process, which is a commitment not to put its weapons to use as long as the agreed agenda is being pursued with sincerity.

“The challenge, therefore, is to quickly find that common ground before any further escalation of hostilities, which is bound to be worse than the previous scale because confidence is low now.

Other ethnic blocs seem to have built the consensus needed to drive the entire process because it is impracticable for the centre to give the Niger_Delta federalism in isolation. The suits in court challenging the legitimacy of the 1999 Constitution also has a direct bearing on all the issues”, he added.

Why MEND is forging ahead with the struggle

Reviewing the struggle in the past two years, he said, “For about 2 years now, our organization, the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, has been at war with the Armed Forces of the Nigerian State, which we regard as an occupation force in the Niger Delta.

Our campaign has often been misconstrued by many, either mischievously or due to ignorance of the issues at stake. We have chosen this time to re_state our case for the benefit of those who do not know; those who might have opposed us ignorantly; and those persons and institutions of goodwill from within and outside Nigeria who have sought to intervene”.

“At the heart of the matter is the issue of our right to self_determination as encapsulated in the Kaiama Declaration (1998), the Ogoni Bill of Rights and other such declarations, these declarations which were products of organized peaceful and civilized mass political processes were largely ignored by the operators of the Nigerian State and other stakeholders, particularly the transnational oil/gas corporations.

This conspiracy having made the peaceful change we advocated impossible invariably made the violent option inevitable.

“At the peak of our loud cry for equity by way of resource control, the government of the day organized a shallow jamboree styled the National Political Reform Conference in Abuja which collapsed on the altar of the organizers greed, with unquantifiable verbal insults heaped on our people.

FG’s declaration of war

“As if these were not bad enough, the Federal Government arrested many of our compatriots,  including Dokubo-Asari and Depreiye Alamiesiegha and deployed  its occupation force to quell the expected resistance of the people; This is obviously a declaration of war on the region by the Federal Government of Nigeria, though not its first time,  as there had been the Umuechem invasion, Odi Massacre, Okochiri raid, the Ogoni saga and the judicial murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others, the Odioma invasion, Okeronkoko and Ogbakiri aerial bombardments amongst many other acts of war. All of these escalated the armed struggle which we embarked upon more in self_defense and self-preservation than any other reason.

“Following the collapse of the pretence at Political Reform in Abuja (NPRC 2005), a group of eminent leaders from various parts of Nigeria led by the duo of Chief Anthony Enahoro and Prof. Wole Soyinka under the aegis of the Pro_National Conference Organisations PRONACO, invited us to the Peoples National Conference (PNC 2005_2006), in recognition of our right to self_determination.

“At that conference (PNC), our representatives met with 163 other ethnic delegations including OPC, MASSOB and Arewa Consultative Youth Forum etc, each armed with its own memorandum.

Robust debates, heated arguments, frank exchanges all ending in a body of Resolutions distilled from the aforementioned memoranda became the basis of the Draft Peoples Constitution now proposed by that Peoples National Conference  as the comprehensive solution to all the agitations for self-determination in the land.

Concurrence by various ethnic nationalities

“We note that this is the first time various nationalities, which make up Nigeria would come together to agree afresh on the terms of their union since after the military sacked the Federal Constitution in 1966. We confirm that the said PNC Draft Constitution has answered all our agitations if it becomes the constitution for the union called Nigeria.

“A “constitution” simply refers to the body of agreement reached and adopted by the constituents on how to govern their union.

When such an agreement is replaced by the imposition of a tiny but powerful minority as has been the case in Nigeria since 1966, the result is the agitation for liberation which in our own case has assumed an armed dimension. Arms aside, the struggle of MEND is not different from that of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) or the Movement for Yoruba Autonomy (MOYA)/O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) or the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP).

They are all seeking to retrieve their lost sovereignties either within a re-negotiated Nigeria as prescribed by PRONACO’s draft or outside it as envisaged by MASSOB.
Our stand

“From our consultations with other self_determination groups across Nigeria, we confirmed from them that their agitations are also met by the same PNC Draft Constitution.

We have no doubt that the said PRONACO Draft Constitution if adopted will return Nigeria to a true Federal Republic to which the constituent Nationalities will be happy to belong.

Failure to exploit this golden opportunity while it lasts leaves the door wide open for a disastrous end to this falsehood called Nigeria.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the imposition of “Constitutions” by successive military administration on the constituent nationalities of Nigeria is at the root of all the conflicts and the resultant collapse of values, decayed infrastructures and total breakdown of law and order.

“Both the 1979 and 1999 constitutions are examples of such impositions in that the military administration of Olusegun Obasanjo imposed 17 amendments on the Draft Proposed by the Constituent Assembly of 1978 while General Abdusalami Abubakar and his PRC unilaterally crafted the 1999 constitution whilst claiming that “WE THE PEOPLE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HAVING FIRMLY AND SOLEMNLY RESOLVED TO LIVE IN UNITY AND HARMONY AS ONE INDIVISIBLE AND INDISSOLUBLE SOVEREIGN NATION UNDER GOD………………………….. DO HEREBY MAKE ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THE FOLLOWING CONSTITUTION” in its preamble.

“It is under this fraud that the sovereignty of the peoples of the various nationalities in Nigeria is usurped and their resources hijacked. That fraud is being challenged by a group called Movement for New Nigeria, whose effort we fully endorse, before the Federal High Court Abuja with the sole intention of peacefully terminating it and replacing it with a truly Peoples Constitution.

These will accord with the rights of the various Nationalities to self_determination as affirmed by the September 12th, 2007 declaration by the United Nations General Assembly on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Thus, the erstwhile crime of “secession” is now the exercise of the right to self-determination.

“We wish to call the attention to the ultimatum issued at Port-Harcourt on the 18th of January 2008 by a Consultative Congress of Niger Delta self determination organizations in which it demanded from the Nigerian state that steps be taken forthwith to either subject the Draft People Constitution to a referendum or in the alternative convoke a Sovereign National Conference before the 31st  of March 2008, failing which they will mobilize the Region to reject the operation of the 1999 “Constitution” in its entirety.

The amendments being pursued by the Abuja Authorities is an exercise in self deceit as you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand neither can the NDDC palliatives take the place of our right to control our resources within the context of our right to self_determination”, he asserted.


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