*Clark is our leader – Timipa Okponipere, Secretary, Aaron Team 2
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WARRI: THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, yesterday, in Warri, accepted the headship of former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, promising to disband its Aaron Team 2 Niger-Delta Dialogue and Peace Initiative, led by Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, in due course.
Secretary of Aaron Team 2, Timakpa Jenkins Okponipere, who conveyed the position of MEND to Chief Clark and other Niger Delta leaders at his residence in Warri, said the group was pledging its 100 per cent loyalty to the elder statesman and national leader of Ijaw ethnic nationality.
Chief Clark convened a meeting of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta coastal states, last Friday, in Warri, where the leaders asked all militant groups to sheath their swords.
The most dangerous militant group in the region, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, declared an unannounced ceasefire barely 24 hours later, while other militant groups followed, but MEND rejected the intervention of the elders led by Clark.
However, Okponipere stated categorically that the group has reconsidered its stand because Clark was practically an indispensable leader and asset in anything that concerned the Niger Delta.
The group in a letter to Clark, which he asked Okponipere to read, stated: “MEND hereby restates that it shall work with and recognize Chief Edwin Clark as the leader of a pan-Niger Delta team to engage in dialogue with the Federal Government and multi-national oil companies upon the following terms and conditions.
“All the ongoing Niger Delta Dialogue and Peace Initiatives in the region shall be carefully coordinated and warehoused under a single umbrella body to be known as the Niger Delta Peace and Development Group.
“Only the Niger Delta Peace and Development Group shall be recognized and competent to speak, negotiate and dialogue on behalf of the Niger Delta region by all stakeholders, including the Federal Government, the international community, multinational oil companies etc.
“The group shall comprise six eminent Nigerians of impeccable character and integrity from the Niger Delta as defined by the Niger Delta Development Commission Act. Chief Clark shall be the leader of the group. MEND in support of the group, would nominate a Secretary, Timikpa Okponipere that would work with Clark,” MEND suggested.