- President Muhammadu Buhari claimed militants in the Niger Delta region were sponsored by treasury looters
- A coalition of groups from the Niger Delta region rejected the claim and insisted that militants were fighting for resource control
- The groups also blamed the president for his policies that were against the Niger Delta region
A coalition of several groups in the Niger Delta region have thrown their weight behind the Niger Delta Avengers and disagree with President Muhammadu Buhari that the militants were sponsored by looters.
The president during his visit to the US for the United Nations General Assembly had said that people who had looted the country’s treasury were sponsoring the vandalism of oil and gas pipelines.
Sahara Reporters reports that some groups from the region denied the allegation and insisted that the fight for resource control was not a new one.
The groups are Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, Ijaw Human Rights Monitors and Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade.
Read the statement below:
"The pan Niger Delta civil societies find it difficult to stomach President Buhari's assertion that looters of Nigerian common wealth recruited militants against his administration. While the many follies of Mr President on issues relating to NIGER DELTA agitation are forgiveable in the sense that Mr President has already admitted that age will limit his capacity, we however find it difficult to forgive the ignorance displayed by Mr President's nephews, cousins and friends who are presently the handlers of the President's functions in Aso rock. If the handlers of Mr President were good students of history, they ought to have known that the NIGER DELTA agitation for self-determination and political autonomy or better still equity participation of the resources in their lands predated Nigeria independent and even oil discovery.
"In 1954 constitutional conference, our forefathers agitated for a separate state of our their own. The agitations for COR State by the minority ethnic groups in the East and Mid-Western State by the Niger Deltans in the West gave birth to minority agitation for political autonomy. That was why in the 1957 constitutional conference, the ethnic minorities in the Niger Delta region presented their agitation for separate states. This was the reason why the British Government recommended a commission for the region instead of a separate state. Today's Avengers armed struggle is a rehearse of what our forefathers have done in the past.
"The Niger Delta struggle has evolved into different stages. During the pre-colonial period, it was a combination of armed and nonviolent struggle. At the colonial time, it metamorphosed into a full blown nonviolent struggle. However, six years after Nigeria got her independent precisely in 1966, Major Jasper lsaac Adaka Boro introduced arms into the struggle which has now been redefined by successive militants groups from time to time. It's on record that different armed groups have sprang up after Isaac Boro to wage armed campaign against the Federal Government over the unresolved issues bordering on oil ownership and the defective and one side-favoured federal structure.
"The question we want to ask; who were the looters that recruited our forefathers to agitate for resource control in the pre- colonial era with particular reference to the King Koko's rebellion against the British Government in response to the later's gunboat diplomacy? Who were the looters that recruited the Niger Delta elders to demand for COR State from the MacPherson's led-Colonial administration in 1939? Again, who were the looters that encouraged Maj. Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro to declare Niger Delta Republic which culminated in the famous 12 days Revolution? The late environmental activist, Mr Ken Kunle Saro- Wiwe, the ljaw Youth Council (IYC) and MEND at various times threw down the gauntlet against successive Governments in the past over ownership of oil. Were they also recruited by looters to wage war against the past Governments? It's time Mr President stopped the fantasies of Government and face the real truth he is evading. When he allowed power players in his Government to execute anti-Niger Delta agenda against the region, didn't he knew that they have murdered peace?
"To ascribed the present agitation by the NIGER DELTA Avengers to looters tells volume of how Mr President and his handlers misconstrued the clamour for a better NIGER DELTA which has been in existence from the pre-colonial era to date. What compelled Isaac Boro, Saro-Wiwa, IYC, MEND and others to cause civil disorder against the Federal Governments in the past is what pushed the Niger Delta Avengers to embark on this renewed armed struggle. The Avengers or any of the genuine agitators are not recruited to wage war against Buhari Government. We want to state here equivocally without fear of contradiction that the Niger Delta agitation will never stop even after Buhari leaves office as long as the age long issues pertaining to oil governance is not addressed. Mr President should not shy away from the responsibilities of his Government. He cannot say he is not aware of the demands of the Niger Delta Avengers."