By Emma Amaize & Jimitota Onoyume
WARRI—THE Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, yesterday, appealed to all militants and stakeholders in the Niger Delta region to sustain the ceasefire deal despite obvious provocations.
This came as Ijaw Monitoring Group, IMG, picked holes in the claim by a South-South leader and former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig-General Idada Ikponmwen (retd.) that Niger Delta people were marginalizing themselves, not the Federal Government, accusing government of sponsoring splinter groups against PANDEF.
Similarly, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, said there was no iota of truth in the allegation by the Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders, NDRC, a militant group, that N80 billion which was supposed to be used in developing the Niger Delta was used to prosecute the election of a former South-South governor, while N40 billion was also withdrawn from the NDDC coffers to prosecute the last re-run election in Rivers State
PANDEF, in a statement by a member of the Central Working Committee, CWC, Dr. Alfred Mulade, said: “PANDEF wishes to appeal to all agitators and stakeholders in the region to exercise restraint and remain calm to sustain the relative peace enjoyed in the region as it will enable PANDEF deepen its engagement process with the Federal Government. It is not unmindful of the unfortunate statement emanating from the federal authorities denouncing the promoters of PANDEF, who have been given the mandate to dialogue with government on behalf of the region.
This is unfortunate, especially given the fact that such statement is coming from the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, and at a time when there is obvious region-wide acceptability and participation in all activities of PANDEF by notable traditional rulers, opinion leaders and stakeholders to champion the course of dialogue on behalf of the region.”
Reacting to the allegations against NDDC by the militant group, Head, Corporate Affairs, NDDC, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, in a statement, said: “The Commission’s new Management and Governing Board have only just assumed duties and have neither awarded projects yet nor undertaken any transactions of such magnitude.”
Meanwhile, Speaking through its National Coordinator, Joseph Evah, IMG accused the Federal Government of sonsoring other groups against PANDEF, comprising monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the region in its bid to disorganize the region.
Evah, who spoke to Vanguard said: “I disagree with General Ikponmwen that Niger Delta people are marginalizing themselves for it is known the Federal Government is sponsoring other groups against PANDEF, comprising monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the region in its bid to disorganize the region. How can the Federal Government say it does not know that the true leaders of the Niger Delta are in PANDEF? Did President Buhari not see them when they visited him November 1, 2016, in Abuja? Who are the other leaders he is looking for in the region different from those he saw that day? How can a group that has people like former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, former military governor of old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, former military governor of Akwa Ibo, State, Air Commodore Ndongesit Nkanga (retd.), Prof Godwin. G. Darah, deputy to the late Ken Sarowiwa and many others, who have been speaking for the region over the years, be said not to be credible?