Itsekiri leaders in Delta State, on Monday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to be cautious about dealing with those flocking around him as mediators in the proposed dialogue towards resolving the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.
They said those who were now parading themselves as stakeholders to resolve the current crisis were the same leaders who fuelled the ongoing hostilities in the region.
The Itsekiri leaders spoke under the auspices of the Warri Study Group in a statement issued by its chairman and secretary, Edward Ekpoko, and Tony Ede, respectively while reacting to the August 19 meeting of the Stakeholders of Niger Delta Coastal States held at Effurun, Delta State.
The statement condemned what the group described as ‘needless’ criminal activities of the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups in the region, calling on the Federal Government to treat all perpetrators as criminals and bring them to justice.
The statement said, “After encouraging the young boys (some of who benefited in the amnesty programme) to carry arms against their fatherland, sabotaging the national economy, they are re-emerging as peace brokers. The problems they are allegedly fighting for have not suddenly come up in just one year of the tenure of Buhari. Is it because Buhari is no “brother”?
“As to be expected, the government appears to be giving listening ears to the so-called leaders/elders – who possibly could have been the architects of the recent violence in the region.”
The statement alleged that some of those presenting themselves now as peacemakers were acting the script of the militants.
It added, “Some of these elders and traditional rulers are acting the script of the militants and have only recruited and/or assembled some few innocent ones and or those willing to be bought outside their ethnic nationalities to give it a semblance of a Niger Delta struggle for better life, conditions and infrastructure.”
While recalling an earlier letter the group wrote to the President, it expressed belief that some serving and former governors in the region were aiding the militants in the current situation in the region.
The statement added, “The FG and Nigerians should not be fooled by the double standard and antics of some Niger Delta leaders and militants. Their interests are self-centred. The Ijaw agenda does not approximate to that of the Niger Delta.
“The problem of the Niger Delta is more of management of resources allocated than anything else. In spite of the trillions of naira that had been provided to intervention agencies and ministries over the years, there is nothing on ground to show for it.”
“Both the Consultative Meeting of the Stakeholders of the Six Niger Delta Coastal States held on 19, August, 2016 and the Niger Delta Monarchs Group that met with the Minister of Petroleum Resources are all Ijaw driven and not Pan-Niger Delta.
“The rest of the Niger Delta made up of the Ibibio, Edo, Urhobo, Ikwerre, Ogoni, Efik, Isoko, Ndokwa, Itsekiri, etc should not be made to learn and discover that problem solving in the region can only be through violence and aggression. Violence and aggression should be discouraged by every means.”
Meanwhile, the umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, has advised the Federal Government against deploying troops, fighter jets and other military hardware in the Niger Delta to root out militants.
The advice is contained in their resolutions reached after an emergency meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, on Monday.
The youths said the advice became imperative due to the fact that militants had no permanent location in the creeks like the Sambisa Forest that provided safe haven for Boko Haram in the North-East.
The IYC in a communiqué signed by the its President, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, and spokesman, Mr. Eric Omare, noted that militants claiming responsibilities for bombings of oil installations in the region were adopting guerrilla tactics to carry out their nefarious activities.