THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, fell apart, today, with President Muhammadu Buhari, passing a vote of no confidence on his government, especially with regards to his handling of the current Niger-Delta crisis.
MEND’s condemnation of Buhari government contained in a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, came as a surprise, as the militant group supported him in the 2015 election against former President Goodluck Jonathan until yesterday.
In a statement, the group said: “Without prejudice to the pre- 2015 Presidential election endorsement freely and voluntarily given to President Muhammadu Buhari on January 6, 2015, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) hereby categorically and unequivocally pass a vote of no confidence on the government of President Buhari; specifically with regard to the government’s handling of the current Niger Delta crisis.”
Describing President Buhari as sly, the group said: “We hereby demand that President Muhammadu Buhari must put a stop to his cunning, crafty and un-statesman rhetoric about the Niger Delta region as they have only served the purpose of jeopardizing the fragile peace in the region.”
It also urged him to “direct the relevant agency of government to immediately commence dialogue with the Niger Delta region; as duly and ably represented by PANDEF.”
The group asserted: “Furthermore, notice is hereby given to the Federal Government that all Niger Delta militant commanders and/or individuals, who were tracked and arrested while observing a ceasefire ahead of talks with the federal government, should be treated well.”
“They should be allowed access to their lawyers, the International Red Cross and a delegation from PANDEF so as to ascertain their wellbeing and ensure they have not been tortured or killed, extra judicially,” it said.
Giving reasons for its new position, MEND said: “That prior to and after his reluctant meeting with the traditional rulers, opinion leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, under the auspices of PANDEF on November 1, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari has been carrying on arrogantly and making controversial, prejudicial, conflicting and contradictory statements about the politics and economy of the oil-rich region.”
“Since after he assumed the reins, President Muhammadu Buhari has always, for reasons best known to him, held the Niger Delta region in contempt; while accusing and/or blackmailing the leadership of the region of not being ready for dialogue whereas it is the Federal Government who are not ready or willing to name a Team to dialogue with the people.
“Prior to the inauguration of PANDEF, the several sessions of dialogue held between representatives of MEND, on the one hand; and those of the Federal Government, on the other hand; where concessions were secured for the release of the Okah brothers and several other political detainees and prisoners of conscience was a grand deception on the part of the Federal Government.
“After the MEND/FG dialogue, which was publicly confirmed by no less a person than President Buhari in his farewell remarks to Mr. Michael Zinner, the out-going German Ambassador to Nigeria, President Buhari reneged on the agreements reached at the dialogue,” he said.
The group added: “And following on the heels of the breach of the agreements, President Buhari personally wrote and signed a damaging and prejudicial letter to the Government of South Africa in an attempt to willfully truncate the on-going peace process in Nigeria; sabotage the legal options open to Henry Okah and simultaneously influence the on-going trial of Charles Okah and others, at the Federal High Court in Abuja, in favour of the Federal Government.”