Militants give Buhari conditions for peace in Niger Delta
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, has urged the Federal Government to suspend the charges against ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, release Henry Okah and Charles Okah, both in jail in South African and Nigeria to facilitate the peace process in Niger Delta.
The group in a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari also said that it had constituted the final list of its Aaron Team 2 and urged government to flag-off the commencement of the peace process by contacting the leaders, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN and HRH King Alfred Diette-Spiff.
The memo signed by spokesperson of the group, Jomo Gbomo, read: 'The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) hereby submits the final list of members of the Aaron Team 2 dialogue, peace and development initiative inaugurated by MEND on June 12, 2016 to find sustainable solutions to the Niger Delta crisis.'
Members of the apolitical team include: Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia, SAN (Rivers - Team Leader), HRH King Alfred Papapreye Diette-Spiff, Amayanabo of Twon-Brass (Bayelsa - Deputy Team Leader & Representative of the Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group - NDDCG), Senator Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River - Representative of all aggrieved militant groups and communities from the Bakassi axis and. Mr. Ledum Mitee, Esq. (Rivers)
Others are Senator Adolphus Wabara (Abia - representative of oil-bearing communities in Abia and Imo states), High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Delta state), Mr. Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom), Mr. Alfred Isename (Edo) and Mr. Timipa Jenkins Okponipere, Esq. (Bayelsa - Team Secretary).
It explained: 'The Leader of the Team, Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Attorney General of Rivers state. He is also a Chartered Arbitrator, former Minister of State for Petroleum and former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Ajumogobia, a man of unblemished proven record, character and integrity is widely respected throughout the entire Niger Delta region and he appreciates the problems and challenges facing the region. He is therefore our Chief Negotiator in the proposed dialogue with the Federal Government.'
'HRH King Alfred Papapreye Diette-Spiff was the first military governor of the old Rivers State and is currently, a 1st class traditional ruler in Bayelsa state. He is the Deputy Leader of the Aaron Team as well as the representative of the Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group (NDDCG). King Alfred's immense popularity and wide acceptance across the Niger Delta region is an asset as Government seeks to tackle the current crisis in the region,' it added.
The group asserted: 'Consequently, the NDDCG, as the name connotes, shall serve as the contact and clearing house for all mushroom and internet-based militant groups in the region; all aggrieved oil-bearing and coastal communities affected by the menace of oil spillage and related environmental challenges.'
' The NDDCG shall also accommodate all repentant Niger Delta activists, elders and tribal assemblies who actively supported the neglect and corruption perpetrated during the era of former President Goodluck Jonathan but who are now ready to join hands with your Government to bring peace and development to the region.
'However, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa from Cross River state shall be representing all Bakassi militant groups and aggrieved communities from that axis of the Niger Delta who see her as their mother.
'Former Senate President Adolphus Wabara is in the Aaron Team to represent Abia and Imo states. He is widely respected across both states and shall deploy his vast wealth of experience for the benefit of the dialogue, peace and development initiative,' MEND stated.
On the inclusion of Tompolo, the group said: 'High Chief Government Ekpemupolo's inclusion in the final list was principally because of the key role he continues to play in the Niger Delta as a notable ex-militant leader; philanthropist; traditional title holder and mobilizer of amazing capacity. It will therefore be counter-productive if the Federal Government ignored such an individual who may be capable of talking to the militants in the creeks to ceasefire.'
'We are very much aware of the pending criminal charges against Government Ekpemupolo by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). However, we strongly advise that the charges be suspended until after the conclusion of the Aaron Team assignment. This is to ensure that Mr. Ekpemupolo devotes his time, energy and resources towards the resolution of the current Niger Delta crisis without any fear of arrest, intimidation or harassment,' it further said.
MEND continued: 'Your Excellency, the MEND Aaron Team 2 dialogue and peace initiative would not have materialized if not for the tireless work and support of the Okah brothers - Henry and Charles who are currently in prisons in South Africa and Nigeria, respectively.'
It said: ' It is our humble submission that the release of the Okah brothers is a crucial factor in the peaceful resolution of the Niger Delta crisis.'
'If Senator Ali Ndume facing terror charge for sponsoring Boko Haram can be granted bail by the Judiciary and thereby permitted to participate in nation-building at one of the highest levels as Majority Leader of the Senate. Then, we see no reason why the Okah brothers that have enormous capacity to help government end the Niger Delta crisis would still held in prison.
'Sir, cases abound in history where prisoners were released from prison to help save the nation in times of crises. Examples include the likes of the Hebrew slave Joseph, who was released from prison to help save ancient Egypt from famine.
'Nelson Mandela was also released from prison in 1990 to help restore multi- racial democracy in South Africa in 1994. We therefore urge the release of Messrs Henry and Charles Okah similarly as former President Olusegun Obasanjo was released from prison to become President and help to nurture the then nascent democracy in 1999,' MEND submitted. – Vanguard.