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6 Aug 2017

Niger Militants Set to Battle Federal Government over Restructuring

A group of Niger Delta militants have promised a showdown with the Federal Government if it fails to devolve powers to the federating units.

A coalition of Niger Delta militant groups on Saturday expressed readiness to fight for a Niger Delta Republic if the Federal Government failed to embrace devolution of power and fiscal federalism.

The militants, who spoke under the aegis of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, stated that they were prepared to mobilise other agitating groups in the oil rich region to actualise a Niger Delta Republic.

A statement signed by nine militant leaders cautioned that the people of the Niger Delta were prepared to secede if the total devolution of power and fiscal federalism were not put in place.

The statement was signed by John Dudu (Niger Delta Watchdogs and convener of the coalition); Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers) Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters) and Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters).

Others included Ibinabo Horsfall of the Niger Delta Movement for Justice, Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network), Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate) and Abiye Tariah (Niger Delta Development Network).

The statement read, “The least considerable action on the part of the Federal Government is the total devolution of power and fiscal federalism. Anything short of that, the people of the Niger Delta will go their separate ways. The coalition will work to convince other agitators in the Niger Delta for a collaborative action to ensure the least acceptable demand, which is total devolution of power and fiscal federalism.

“The people of the Niger Delta will fully support the call for a referendum by other agitators in the country. Finally, the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators firmly resolves to pursue its decision(s) and actualise them by any means necessary.”

Faulting the leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum for what they termed poor handling of the agreement between it (PANDEF) and the Federal Government, the militants declared that they had withdrawn their support for the forum.

They maintained that the authority to represent the Niger Delta ethnic nationalities was no longer under the purview of the current leadership of PANDEF.

The coalition said, “The Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators will rally round all other agitating groups in the Niger Delta for the actualisation of the Niger Delta Republic. This will give us the freedom to develop ourselves and at our own pace.”

It also described the last meeting of the forum in Bayelsa as dismal, adding that serious issues were not presented for deliberation.

Describing the PANDEF leadership as clueless, the coalition observed that the forum appeared not to be cohesive and united in thoughts and actions.

“While a meeting is called by Pa E. K. Clark in Bayelsa, the secretary of the central working committee is calling for a constitution review meeting in Abuja the following day. We have no doubt in our mind that there are contending interests and positions that have become overriding in the leadership of PANDEF and we can no longer sit by and allow them to fester,” the coalition said.

It added that PANDEF leadership appeared to have lost track of the political development and the trend of agitations in the country, especially from the South-East and South-West.

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