Niger Delta leaders warn militants over bombing of Forcados trunkline

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Niger Delta leaders yesterday severely reprimanded the militant group that blew up the Trans-Forcados at Batan, Warri South West Local Council, Delta State pipelines, saying enough was enough.

Edwin-Kiagbodo-Clark

The leaders who met at the Warri home of the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, said the recent blowing up of Trans-Forcados Pipeline operated by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) was no longer a matter arising from grievances, but an act designed to sabotage the present peace process with the federal government.

They condemned the destruction of oil and gas assets in the region, thereby also causing destruction of the ecosystem, stressing that venting anger on Government, can never receive the blessings of PANDEF.

They were particularly sad that 24 hours after the visit to the President, the Trans-Forcados Pipeline was blown up at Batan. They asked, “what do these boys want?

The leaders noted that while several of the armed agitators have accepted their intervention, and have thus halted hostilities, they regretted that there are some newly emerging elements who have refused to join in the train of dialogue, and who are still embarking on nefarious activities of destruction of critical national assets entirely for their selfish interest. The leaders urged the latter group to accept dialogue, and to cease any further hostilities, saying that dialogue was a more profitable path to take.

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They said the militants refusing the pathway of dialogue were misguided elements risking reprisal from the law enforcement agents. PANDEF insisted that dialogue was the only profitable option for both the Government and the aggrieved.

Clark said: “I want to emphasise that no Government sits by and watches its National Assets being destroyed. It is the innocent members of the communities that would bear the brunt of possible reprisal attacks by the military.

“It would be recalled that since the resumption of hostilities in the Coastal Niger Delta, we have been making efforts to resolve the lingering issues.

“I issued a press statement at my residence in Abuja on my birthday, May 25, 2016, where I passionately appealed to both the agitators and the Federal Government to allow issues to be settled through dialogue, and not through confrontation. I have not changed my position since then.

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“At the escalation of the crisis, I moved from Abuja to Warri, and made series of contacts, culminating into a very important meeting of the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality on July 30, 2016, which was very well attended.

“This meeting had delegates from Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Ondo States, and also had in attendance, Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, and Kingsley Otuaro, Deputy Governor of Delta State.

“However, we realized the issue was a matter for the entire Niger Delta Coastal States. I then decided, after due consultation with leaders and other relevant stakeholders, to convene a meeting of all Ethnic Nationalities in the Coastal States of the Region, at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Delta State on Friday, August 19, 2016. Over 500 delegates attended, including the Governor of Delta State, His Excellency Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, who also addressed the delegates.

“It should be placed on record that, arising from the August 19, 2016 Stakeholders’ Meeting at Effurun, Delta State, all agitating youths promptly declared a unilateral 60-day ceasefire, in deference to the patriotic position of the monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the Region, which has subsisted till today.

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“It is, therefore, our hope that Government will just be magnanimous in reciprocating that gesture with an equally noble one, by inaugurating the Dialogue Process, within the very near future.

“At the behest of the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, a delegation of PANDEF, made of traditional rulers, opinion and community leaders and youth groups, drawn from across the entire Coastal States of the Niger Delta Region, paid a courtesy visit to Mr. President at the Presidential Villa, on Tuesday, November 1, 2016, where a POSITION PAPER containing 16-point urgent and fundamental dialogue issues was presented.

“We have raised a strong point to Government on the imperatives of sincerely engaging in dialogue on the issues raised, so as to usher in the desired peace and prosperity of the region and, ultimately, the entire country.”

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