In what appears like a slow of its anger, The Movement for the
Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main militant group in the oil
rich region of Niger Delta in Nigeria, yesterday announced a team of
mediators to negotiate with the government over disarmament.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) named a team
including Nobel Prize-winning writer, Wole Soyinka and two retired senior
military officials who it said had volunteered to act as mediators on its
"These eminent persons will be known as the Aaron Team and have our
mandate to oversee a transparent and proper MEND disarmament process," the
group said in an emailed statement.
"The MEND disarmament process will only come after the root causes of
militancy and agitation in the Niger Delta have been addressed by the
Nigerian government," it said.
The amnesty process, according to the group, "lacked integrity".
It would be recalled that President Umaru Yar'Adua offered an amnesty
pardon in June this year to all Niger Delta gunmen who laid down their
The offer was one of the most serious attempts, Energia Magazine can
reveal, yet to stem unrest which has prevented Nigeria from pumping much
above two thirds of its oil capacity, costing it billions of dollars a
year in lost revenue.
Presidential adviser Timi Alaibe said recently that over 6,000 militants
had signed up for the amnesty.
But key militant leaders in the region including Ateke Tom and Government
Tompolo, who reports say command thousands of gunmen in the region and
have links to MEND, are yet to surrender. They want the amnesty deadline
extended from October 4 to allow dialogue on demands including a partial
The government has denied their request, saying the amnesty terms must be
accepted without conditions and assured the offer would not be extended.
“Some eminent Nigerians have graciously accepted to dialogue on behalf
of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) with the
Federal Government of Nigeria whenever the government realizes the need to
adopt serious, meaningful dialogue as a means to halting the violent
agitation in the Niger Delta.
“The Nigerian government so far has not shown willingness to dialogue,
preferring instead to make wild unrealistic threats, purchase more useless
military hardware, and dole out bribes to traitors to our noble cause as
has been obvious in its so-called disarmament process.” The statement
Others on Aaron Team, according to MEND are - Vice Admiral Okhai Mike
Akhigbe (rtd), - Major General Luke Kakadu Aprezi (rtd) and - Dr. Sabella
Ogbobode Abidde, PhD
The group also nominated Ms Annkio Briggs, an activist, to liaise on
behalf of the group with these Nigerians who have volunteered their time
in a bid to bring a just and lasting peace to the Niger Delta.
“The hope for peace in the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general now rests
squarely on the shoulders of the Nigerian government.” The statement was
signed by Jomo Gbomo