DIALOGUE: Militants name new leader, body to replace Clark, PANDEF

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…Loyibo is leader of new group, PNDPC
…Ex-gov Sylva, Ayemi-Botu, King Igbugburu listed

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

COALITION of Niger Delta militant groups, which recently withdrew its mandate to the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, announced a new set of leaders under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress, PNDPC, to dialogue with the Federal Government on behalf of the people of the oil region.

File: Militants

The 13-man PNDPC team,   headed by a younger Niger Delta leader, High Chief Mike Loyibo, had former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva and two prominent monarchs, former National Chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, His Majesty, Charles Ayemi-Botu and  Joshua Igbugburu from as members.

Convener and leader of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, self-styled Major General Johnmark Ezonbi, aka Obama, who spoke to newsmen after a meeting of the militant groups at Oloibiri announced the membership of the new body.

He said: “Professor Benjamin Okaba , former chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Chief Wellington Okrika, Professor Etim Eyong,  Mercy Almona-Isei, AVM Austine Ekon, National President of Host Communities of Nigeria, HOSTCOM,  Bishop Mike Emuh , a renowned oil and gas expert, Reverend OJ Agbarah, Justice Chris Ajama (retd.) and Pastor Victor Egoh are members of the body.’’

The militant groups in the Coalition  are the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, led by Ezonbi; Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders Council; Niger Delta Supreme Egbesu Fighters; Niger Delta Red Scorpion Fighters; Niger Delta Youth Mandate for Justice; Niger Delta Liberation Force; Niger Delta Fighters for Resource Control; Niger Delta Fighters for Urhobo Resource Control and Bakassi People Liberation Force. Speaking to Saturday Vanguard, yesterday, Loyibo said he was not aware of the new group and his selection by militants to lead the region.

He, however,  said: “It is a welcome development and I will do my best to effectively represent the region if that is what the boys in the creeks want.”

He commended Chief Clark for the leadership he offered his region, saying that he did his best for Niger Delta even as a nonagenarian.

“I have demonstrated integrity over the years and have been part of the Niger Delta negotiation team with the Federal Government.  We have not relented and we will pursue the new phase with integrity,” he said.

Contacted, His Majesty Ayemi-Botu asserted: “I am not aware of the development, I am just hearing it from you (Saturday Vanguard)”. Similarly, Chief Okrika told our reporter at about 7.45 pm on phone: “I am not aware.”

Stop paying derivation to govs

The militants, who called on the Federal Government to immediately halt the payment of 13 per cent derivation to governors of the Niger Delta states, advocated the immediate sack and removal of four serving ministers and officials of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Ezonbi  said:  “The Federal Government should dialogue with persons with credibility and genuine heart for the development of the region, as persons with the toga of corruption should not be allowed to discuss with the federal government under any guise.”

He also urged the government “to enter into talks and negotiations with PNDPC. They have the mandate of the various militant groups in the creeks. failure to do so will secure their wrath and resumption of fresh attacks on oil facilities to bring down the nation’s oil sector to ground zero.

Derivation

“The Federal Government should stop forthwith the payment of 13 percent oil derivation to state governors of the Niger Delta, but rather pay it directly to HOSTCOM in line with the 1999 Constitution as amended in Section 162, Sub Section 2.

“We say it is an illegal act for the federal government to release this fund to the state governors. Henceforth, 13 percent derivation fund should be released to HOSTCOM directly in the interest of peace and development of the region.

“The oil pipeline surveillance security contract should also be directly given to HOSTCOM, which will, in turn, provide job opportunities for the teeming youths as well as safe guard oil pipelines and facilities.

“We demand the immediate release of licenses for 10 modular refineries and gas flare penalty funds to the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region through HOSTCOM,

“The Coalition urges the Acting President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, who is the head of the government peace and fact-finding committee to the region to address the issues we raised or face fresh attacks on oil installations by us.”

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