Agitators seek withdrawal of oil blocks from ex-leaders
• Middle Belt indigenes ask FG, APC to act fast on herdsmen
• South south, south east governors meet in Rivers
A coalition of Niger Delta agitators and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday warned against the re-arrest of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu.
The Niger Deltans, in a statement made available to The Guardian after their meeting in Abuja described the withdrawal of the quit notice to Igbo in the north as an attempt to hoodwink Nigerians from confronting pertinent issues that need to be addressed by the authorities.
Describing as laughable and ridiculous the call for the revocation of the bail conditions offered by the court to Kanu, they accused the Federal Government and the northern governors of conniving with the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) in the issuance of the quit notice.
They demanded that all oil blocks within the coastal area given to former leaders and other personalities should be returned to them. The group which threatened to resume attacks on oil installations from September 10 asked all onshore and offshore workers to leave the area.
The agitators reiterated their earlier stance that northerners and Yoruba people should quit the Niger Delta region before October 1, 2017. Those who signed the statement included General John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs and Convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators); General Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers); General Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Major-Gen. Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters); Major-Gen. Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters); Major-Gen. Ibinabo Horsfall (Niger Delta Movement for Justice); Major-Gen. Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network); Major-Gen. Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate) and Major-Gen. Ibinabo Tariah (Niger Delta Development Network).
The Niger Delta agitators further demanded what they described as “total overhaul of the basis of our unity.” They demanded the relocation of the oil and gas companies headquarters to their operational base as well as the relocation of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) headquarters and all other offices that have to do with oil and gas and the replacement of the Group Managing Director of NNPC.
“We reaffirm our resolve for the declaration of the Niger Delta Republic on 1st October 2017. “We reaffirm our resolve to resume attack on all the oil blocs and well owned by the northerners and Yoruba in the Niger Delta from September 10, 2017. We call on PENGASSAN, NUPENG and members of international community to withdraw their members/expatriates from such oil wells/blocks as we shall not spare any person found in such platforms, including NNPC offices in Abuja and Lagos, oil companies headquarters outside the Niger Delta region. We shall also go after investments, businesses and companies owned by northerners and Yoruba within our reach.”
The group said any attempt to arrest any of its members would be “resisted with everything/anything within our reach and we shall extend our anger to any security agents we come across.”
A statement by MASSOB’s leader, Uchenna Madu in Enugu said that proceeding with the matter said to have been brought before the Federal High Court by the Attorney
General of the Federation would give credence to a notion of bias against the Igbo.
The group which wondered why Kanu should be singled out for arrest when those who issued quit orders and promoted hate songs capable of causing genocide are walking freely, warned the government to resist attempts to drag the country into crisis. “Kanu’s activities towards Biafra actualisation and restoration have never breached, truncated or confronted the fragile and inconsistent constitution of Nigeria. There were some northern elements who openly defended those who issued quit notices and promoted hate songs, yet, government behaved as if there was nothing to it. Why would anybody think of re-arresting Kanu for taking a position in the scheme of things that have always been skewed against the Igbo? Kanu is a freedom fighter and the earlier the leadership of the country realizes this, the better for Nigeria,” MASSOB said.
Besides, the National Leadership of the Middle Belt Youth Council, comprising over 400 ethnic nationalities expressed dissatisfaction with the level of hate-filled speeches by some misguided groups of people and even government.
Addressing a press conference yesterday evening, its President, Emma Zopmal said: “Every part of the country or group of people has the right to demand what will protect the interest of its people. This trend of sad development came as a result of government’s failure to address some fundamental socio-economic, geographical and political issues challenging our common existence as a nation.
“The Nigerian government has been so insensitive to the security threats of our people over the years. Ever since the killings of our people started by Fulani herdsmen, Federal Government of Nigeria has never set up a special security committee, to find a way of addressing this existential threat. It only focuses its attention on oil and gas revenue bases in the south and fulfills the political demands of the Arewas at all times.
“In this regard, the government has shown high level of discrimination against the Middle Belt people and also pretends nothing is happening here. We wish to remind our good friends from the South that they should remain focused on the fight for restructuring other than any cosmetic surgery to our national problem.
“We urge the Federal Government to immediately set up a special expert security committee, including our communities and the Middle Belt Youth Council, to put an end to this menace if it really means tackling it.”
Zopmal said the Middle Belt region would not take a step back on restructuring and would immediately usher in a demand for referendum if restructuring fails. “We know that the Arewas are comfortable with the present system because it benefits them more than any part of Nigeria. Therefore, they remain an obstacle to it instead of finding a common ground to find a lasting solution to this national problem. Their position has always been ‘We Say No’ to this and that in every national discourse. This is not in any way solving problems but making it worse.
“We want to inform President Muhammadu Buhari that restructuring is not a decision of the Council of State or the National Assembly but it is a people’s decision. The whole of the South, Middle Belt, and some progressive far Northerners are fully in support of it. It will even be a credit to Mr. President and All Progressives Congress (APC) government if they allow it to happen, or else it will happen in spite of them,” he said.
In a related development, South-South and South-East governors met in Port Harcourt, Rivers State yesterday in furtherance of their quest to forge a common economic and political front on national issues.
The meeting which was convened by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, was in continuation of the last meeting held in Enugu State. Wike told The Guardian before the commencement of the meeting which was slated for 7:00 p.m. yesterday that it was predicated on the need for the two regions which share common heritage, cultural and affinity to integrate and speak with a common voice.
He explained that the two regions which are pivotal to the economy of the country cannot afford to be incoherent in the pursuit of their political and economic interest in Nigeria. According to him, the meeting would focus on cooperation irrespective of political affiliation.
The governors held their inaugural meeting in Enugu last July where Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom was selected as its chairman.
Those who were at the Government House, Port Harcourt at press time were: Wike; Emmanuel; David Umahi (Ebonyi); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Okezie Ikpazu (Abia); Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd) deputy governor (Bayelsa); and Anambra Deputy Governor, Nkem Okeke, who represented Governor Willie Obiano.