Published On: Sat, Nov 12th, 2016

Clark blasts militants over renewed hostilities, says bombers are criminals

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By Emma Amaize, Egufe Yafugborhi & Perez Brisibe

LEADER of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, has berated Niger Delta militants for the resumption of hostilities in the Creeks despite moves to broker peace with the Federal Government, describing the militants as enemies of the people and criminals.

Irked by the development, especially after the November 1, 2016, meeting of PANDEF with President Muhammadu Buhari, Clark, who spoke in Warri, said those still bombing pipelines were misguided.

Chief Edwin Clark

Chief Edwin Clark

The former Federal Commissioner for Information at an enclosed meeting of PANDEF in Warri disowned those responsible for the hostilities. He, nonetheless, appealed to the federal government not to be distracted by the development, urging President Buhari to continue working on the requests made by his group.

He said: ‘’The recent blowing up of Trans-Forcados pipeline operated by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, is no longer a matter arising from grievances, but an act designed to sabotage the present peace process.

“No government sits and watches its national assets being destroyed. It is the innocent members of the communities who will bear the brunt of possible reprisal by the military. Since resumption of hostilities, we have been making efforts to resolve the lingering issues. I passionately appeal to both agitators and federal government to allow issues to be settled through dialogue, and not confrontation. I have not changed my position since then.

Identifies likely sponsors

“There are some politicians, who are also members of the Niger Delta who are fighting themselves and it is not unlikely that some of these people are involved in these bombings to discredit each other. There are some who said we could have been the ones to do the job, why do you allow these old men to do it?

“We also have people who are out to make money. So we have all sorts of people. For refusing dialogue, PANDEF does not represent them and consider them as misguided elements. With the likely consequence of risking reprisal from the law enforcement agents, PANDEF insists that dialogue is the only profitable option for all.

Charge to militants, other stakeholders

“Several armed agitators have accepted our intervention and halted hostilities. We also note, with regret, some emerging elements, which have refused to join the train of dialogue and are still embarking on the destruction of critical national assets for selfish interest. We can only appeal to them to accept dialogue and cease further hostilities, for dialogue is a more profitable path to take.

“These engagements with the government have begun to yield dividends. The meeting with the President was cordial. The President promised to go through our 16-point demand and give the PANDEF an appropriate response.

“Since then, the military option by the government has ceased. In this respect, we note that the recent report on the arrest of some youths in Gbaramatu, Delta State was quickly resolved through interventions by the PANDEF leadership, and the youths have been released.”

Confidence in FG

“We commend Dr. Kachikwu for his commitment in facilitating the meeting of PANDEF with Mr. President. We urge Mr. President to promptly constitute a dialogue team. Government is urged to take appropriate steps towards making good its announced long-awaited approval for re-opening of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State. This institution, when allowed to commence, as imperative, will give enormous credibility and demonstrable commitment to the proposed dialogue.

“I also call on the governors of the Niger Delta coastal states to step up their own internal security apparatus to stem the tide of this ugly menace.”

(SOURCE –VANGUARD)

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