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By NBF News
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The zoning debate within the fold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has assumed a dangerous dimension with former commanders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), warning of the imminent break-up of the country.

Former Military President, Ibrahim Babaginda, and former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, had during a National Stakeholders' Conference organised by the Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) on Wednesday warned of dire consequences if the PDP abandoned the zoning principle.

But reacting to the duo, the ex-MEND commanders, under the aegis of Ex-MEND Commanders Forum, said the statement credited to the two northernern leaders was an indication that the disintegration of Nigeria was near.

The roup, in a statement signed by High Chief Bibopre Ajube (aka Shoot at Sight), 'General' Ezekiel Akpasibewei (ex-leader of the Niger Delta Underdogs) and 'Commander' Micah Kpenfi (aka Ota 1) warned that they would surprise the nation if their acceptance of the amnesty offer by the late president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'adua, was taken for a ride.

The statement read in part: 'Our attention has been drawn to the despicably treasonable statement made by former military leader, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and his co-traveller, Atiku Abubakar, in which the duo threw caution to the winds, threatening President Goodluck Jonathan.'

'While we hold firm to the belief that freedom of expression as enunciated in the nation's constitution allows individuals to express their opinions on given issues, we view, in every aspect of their intents, the statement made by the two leaders, who have served the nation in various capacities, as very dangerous for the survival of this nation.

'We have watched without concern as the debate about zoning or otherwise continues with political actors marshalling reasons why the presidency should go their way. We are not politicians; hence, we have left politics for politicians.

'Nonetheless, we are amused that both IBB and Atiku, who are from the region that has utilised the resources of the Niger Delta to rule this country for more than 30 years since independence, are today threatening fire and brimstone over an attempt by someone from the Niger-Delta to take a shot at the presidency for once.

'In unequivocal terms, their position, aside threatening the life of President Jonathan, amounts to calling for a coup and such is treasonable in every ramification. But we must warn that we are not taking this threat on the life of an Ijaw man lightly as we shall resist any attempt to give him the Abiola treatment.

'We wish to further say that this call for violent change as canvassed by both northerners had aptly laid a dangerous foundation capable of eliciting vigilance that could eventually lead to the disintegration of Nigeria. If the intention of these leaders is to commence the process of Nigeria's break-up, we are not unprepared for it if only to allow Nigerians enjoy their God-given resources for their benefit.

Efforts to speak with the former General Officer Commanding of MEND, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), on the latest threat to to the Jonathan presidency was futile but his media aide, Paul Bebenimibo, who said Tompolo was in a crucial meeting, said the position of the two leaders ' was most dangerous.'