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MEND asks foreign oil firms to leave Niger-Delta

By Lawani Mikairu, with agency report

LAGOS—The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), is threatening to call off its ceasefire with the government if foreign oil companies do not leave the region.

This is coming barely fews days after its leader, Mr. Henry Okah, had a private  meeting with President Umaru Yar’Adua in Abuja.

MEND had subsequently ordered an indefinite cessation of hostilities following the  decision of the Federal Government to engage in serious and meaningful dialogue with it and other groups towards achieving enduring peace in the region.

Okah told Al Jazeera Television Service yesterday that the government has not stuck to its part of the deal and that “there will be a resumption of violence very soon.”

Many of the armed groups argued that they were fighting for a greater share of oil revenue to remain in the Niger Delta and complained of the pollution caused by the industry.

Attacks on pipelines and industry facilities – along with the kidnapping of oil workers – since early 2006 have cost Nigeria, the world’s eighth-biggest oil exporter billions of dollars a year in lost revenues and added to volatility in global energy prices.

The Minister of Information and Communication, Professor Dora Akunyili, was quoted as telling  Al Jazeera that,  “We need to establish peace in that region. It is only when peace is established that meaningful dialogue can follow and sustainable development would naturally be in place.”


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