N'DELTA LEADERS WARN AGAINST MILITARISATION OF REGION
Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Clapperton Accord have warned against the militarisation of the region and called for immediate ceasefire of all hostilities in the area.
The group which met at the residence of former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe (rtd) on Clapperton Street, Asokoro Abuja also asked government to implement immediately the recommendations of the Niger Delta Technical Committee Report.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting signed by Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill, the group recognised failure in leadership not just at the Federal Government level but also at the regional, state, local and community levels and challenged the leaders in the Niger Delta to start speaking more for the people and less for themselves.
In attendance at the meeting were: Admiral Mike Akhigbe; Mr Sam Amuka; Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill; Dr. Bolere Ketebu; Charles Edosomwan (SAN); Prof Julius Ihonvbere (OON); Ann Kio Briggs; Bassey Eniang and Chief Atuyota Ejughemre.
In their communique, the leaders at the meeting agreed that:
“As parents and children, we from the Niger Delta have not always gone about the issue of the underdevelopment of our region in the right way. This issue is not an Ijaw issue, it is a Niger Delta issue and the notion that guns will bring about development is a complete misnomer. When criminality which exists all over the nation was used to discredit our legitimate grievances we watched in silence and gave an excuse to our enemies while alienating our allies.
“Leadership is earned not imposed and the expectation that individuals not from the people can speak for the people is at the very best wishful thinking. We the leaders in the Niger Delta need to start speaking more for the people and less for ourselves. Maybe if we had spoken up louder, earlier as we no doubt should have, the vacuum which resulted would not have been occupied by violence', the leaders said.
The communique further noted that “Before we comment on the current development, let us state categorically that we totally condemn the killing of Nigerian soldiers. They are Nigerians with families who deserve to live life without fear at least of their fellow Nigerians. We pray for their souls and pray their families are granted the fortitude to bear their irreplaceable loss.
“Irrespective of the various accounts and independent of the ongoing blame game, two wrongs don't make a right and the reaction by the military was to put it mildly, one wrong too far. The number of innocent people killed, injured and displaced is wholly unnecessary and downright extreme. Making our women, grandparents and children “double victims” is not the way to promote harmony, peace and reconciliation and it is certainly not the way to promote development”.