By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
YENAGOA—MILITANTS in the Niger Delta region maintained opposing stands, yesterday, on the purported overthrow of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of the Niger Delta, led by Chief Edwin Clark, by a coalition of militants, who transferred the mandate to the Pan Niger Delta People Congress, PNDPC.
This came as the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, faulted the fresh mandate given PNDPC, headed by former National Chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, His Majesty Charles Ayemi-Botu, alias Lion of the Niger.
Also, spokesperson of the Niger Delta Revolutionary Council, NDRC, W. O. I. Izon Ebi, in a statement, said: “PANDEF is neither an Ijaw affair nor extension of the fiefdom of Chief Clark.
“We advise the few black legs that are bent on derailing the ongoing dialogue to remember that at the time the region was in turmoil, it was Pa Clark, at his age, and some eminent personalities that came to the creeks and persuaded us to ceasefire and give peace a chance for sincere dialogue.
“We state unequivocally that we know those behind this act and are bent on derailing the peace process and restate our advice that those mentioned as members of a new group, PNDPC, should renounce the traitors because we also know that they profit from chaos and anarchy.”
Clark contributed to N-Delta’s woes—RNDA
Reacting to NDRC position, Convener of the coalition of nine militant groups, which are opposed to PANDEF, self-styled “Major General” Johnmark Ezonbi, said: “We, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, with other militant groups in the creeks, are saying that Chief Clark and PANDEF cannot negotiate and speak for the people of Niger Delta region because they contributed to the underdevelopment of the region.
“The so-called 16-point agenda that PANDEF submitted to the Presidency was drafted at Clark’s Abuja house and does not reflect the wishes of the people of the region because they never went round the various ethnic groups in the region or/and visited the creeks to meet with the people before it was drafted.”
Ezonbi, who is the leader of RNDA, the same group that had been working against Clark and PANDEF since formation last year, said that NDRC, currently pandering to PANDEF and the elder statesman was inconsequential in the Niger Delta struggle.
RNDA, others are paid media groups— IPDI
However, Director of Programme, IPDI, Mr. Ezekiel Kagbala, in a statement, accusing “some disgruntled leaders” of sponsoring faceless militant groups to knock over Pa Clark’s leadership, said: “The purported convener of the militants’ coalition and leader of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, Johnmark Ezonbi, and others are paid media groups and do not have the backing of Niger Delta region to topple Pa Clark.
“HM Loyibo, ex-Governor Timipre Sylva and others, under PNDPC, are desperate and meddlesome interlopers looking for self-glory and the faceless Convener of the militants’ coalition and RNDA leader, Johnmark Ezonbi, does not exist and has no mandate to nominate anybody to dialogue with the Federal Government on behalf of the region.”