By Emma Amaize
THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, today (Sunday), confirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim that the Federal Government was actually dialoguing with Niger Delta militants through the oil companies and law enforcement agents.
Spokesperson of the group, Jomo Gbomo, in a press statement, said: “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to confirm that indeed it has been in preliminary talks with the Federal Government through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies as revealed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, July 21, 2016.”
“These preliminary talks are the precursor to a wider dialogue between the Federal Government and the MEND Aaron 2 peace initiative, which will seek to find solutions to the short, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta region.
“The Federal Government made it clear during our meetings that a negotiation with criminals is out of the question,” MEND said.
It added: “The Niger Delta Avengers, internet-based ‘militant’ groups such as Joint Revolutionary Council, Ultimate Warriors etc., an Ijaw opportunistic tribal assembly, which were compromised to keep silent during the six (6) years of Goodluck Jonathan’s misrule and neglect, pirates, pipeline vandals, oil thieves, commercial kidnappers, waterway robbers, political thugs and miscreants all fall under this category.”
Niger Delta Avengers, which is the main militant group in the region currently, had, last Friday, denied Buhari’s assertion that government was discussing with militants.
Its spokesperson, self-styled Brig Gen Mudoch Agbinibo, said: “Our attention has been drawn to media report that the President is in touch with Niger Delta agitators, including the Niger Delta Avengers, but the truth is that we are not aware of any peace talk.”
“If there is any such peace talk, it means the President is talking to their mercenaries set to disturb the genuine struggle of the agitators. President Buhari led government is not sincere to the Nigeria people and their foreign allies,” it pointed out.
NDA asserted: “If we are to engage in any peace talk, we made it clear that the international community must be part of it. The President knows our demands. Therefore, they should stop deceiving the international oil companies, the general public and the international community.”