Some prominent leaders of the Niger Delta region under the aegis of Concerned Niger Delta Leaders have described the recent attacks on the nation’s oil facilities by the Niger Delta Avengers as a criminal act targeted at destroying the collective heritage of the people of the region.
The National Coordinator of the group, Chief Mike Loyibo, said during a press conference in Abuja that the acts perpetrated by the group were unacceptable not only to the Federal Government but also to the people of the area.
Loyibo who addressed the press alongside a former Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Ebebi Peremobowei, said that while the agenda of the group was not clear, their actions, which had threatened the unity of the country to its foundations, should be condemned by all well-meaning stakeholders.
Other members of the group are a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Francis Tabai, former Military Administrator of the Old Bendel State, Gen. John Yeri, the First Military Administrator of Rivers State and the His majesty, the Amayanabo of Twon Brass, Alfred Diete-Spiff.
The Niger Delta leaders called on the group to lay down their arms as no developmental effort could yield any positive result in an environment of violence.
Loyibo said that while violence was not the option to the solution of human problems, the leaders were in support of the decisive steps being taken by President Buhari to prevent vandals from sabotaging the efforts of the government to bring development to the oil rich region.
He said, “We have for some time watched with utmost dismay the manner in which the Niger Delta Avengers, a group with an aimless agenda, has been destroying our common heritage and the economic mainstay of the country through the vandalisation of critical government infrastructure and oil installations.
“To us, the agenda of these people still remains unclear. At best, their actions are clear acts of sabotage and criminality, both against the state and humanity. It is also a direct threat to the collective existence of us all. The activities of the Niger Delta Avengers also threaten the un-negotiable unity of Nigeria to its very foundation, and this must be condemned by all well meaning stakeholders.”
However, the group urged the military to carry out the ongoing operation to fish out the members of the group with caution as the last operation in Gbaramatu resulted in the suffering of innocent people including children, the aged and women.
Loyibo said that the use of the military to solve problems could not be preferred to dialogue which could result in lasting solution to the issue.
Loyibo said that the leaders would also explore the use of leaders of ex-agitators to play a necessary role in the resolution of the current crisis.
“You don’t use military solutions in addressing problems, one of the steps, we want to use is to be able to use former agitators who embraced the Amnesty Programme. If you bring all the military, you have not solved the problem.
“The problem is not to go and crush them, the problem is to dialogue with them and ensure that you solve the problem once and for all. If there are any issues then, try to address them,” he added.
He said that as peace lovers, the people would always give the requisite support to government policies.
He also called on the President to provide critical infrastructure to the area, give serious consideration to the region in the next round of political appointments and also ensure the take off of academic activities at the Maritime University, Okerenkoko.
Loyibo who commended the President for the choice of Gen, Paul Boroh as the head of the Amnesty Programme, called for allocation of more funds to the Programme.
He said that the programme did not have a terminal date and could only be concluded after the training of the 11,000 militants on the waiting training.
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