Leading Nigerian militant group operating in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, the Niger Delta Avengers, on Saturday, July 23, 2016, dismissed claims by the Nigerian Navy that two of its members had been arrested.
The militant group claimed that the suspects arrested by the Navy, Felix Ebiador, and another person identified as David, were not its members.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Mudoch Agbinibo, the group stressed that its members were intact, and that the Navy could not arrest any of them because they have superior weapons.
It will be recalled that two suspected members of the Niger Delta Avengers, who were arrested on Sunday, July 10, 2016 were on Friday, July 22, 2016, paraded in Delta State.
They were said to have been apprehended with new 11 vehicle batteries and electric cables allegedly used for bombing oil and gas pipelines in the state.
But the NDA insisted that the Commanding Officer, NNS Delta, Commodore Joseph Dzunve, was trying to please the Chief Naval Staff, Vice Admiral, Ibok-Ete Ibas, with the claims and to give the impression that he was working.
The militant group in a statement titled, ‘Stop going after soft targets’ also alleged that the two persons arrested by the Navy were “innocent,” adding that the Nigerian Navy was incapable of policing the nation’s maritime space.
The statement read in part, “From the media reports, it is clear that the Commanding Officer, NNS Delta, Commodore Joseph Dzunve, has lost his sense of professionalism. How are those innocent boys connected to NDA?
“We don’t know Prince David and Felix Ebiador; they are not part of us. All NDA operatives are intact. No security operative has arrested any of our members. What the commanding officer is doing is to please his boss that he is working.
“Must he connect innocent people to us? Very soon, the general public will know the truth about the Nigerian military, especially the Nigerian Navy that specialises in illegal oil bunkering.
“Stop arresting innocent people in the name of looking for NDA operatives. It’s obvious that the Nigeria Navy is incapable of policing the Nigerian maritime space.
“Even the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, made it clear while briefing the Senate that Nigerian Navy was ill-equipped to match the Niger Delta Avengers. So how can the well-trained NDA members bring themselves so low to be arrested by the Nigerian Navy?
“They should follow the path of honour and morality by telling their Commander-in-Chief the truth instead of arresting innocent civilians and tagging them as NDA operatives. The days of wire and battery are over; we are far advance in guerrilla warfare.”
The group called on the Federal Government to concede to its demand for self-determination, adding that everybody was tired of Nigeria as a country.
It stated that the group would only embrace the option of a dialogue with the Federal Government if the parley were done with representatives of the international community in attendance.
“Government should heed our demand of self-determination. Mr. President, everybody is tired of this thing called Nigeria. The ship called Nigeria is grounded right now and you are so confused,” the group said.
“You lied to your foreign allies, your citizens on daily basis. Mr. President, you even lie to yourself. Even if we are going to dialogue, it will be in the presence of the international community.”
The militant group said it should not be associated with Chief Government Ekpumopolo, also known as Tompolo, describing him as an enemy.
It alleged that the Federal Government was engaging people to sabotage the struggle of liberating the people of the oil rich region, and that those contacted were taking part in pipeline bombing through members of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
“With an open confession by the criminals that they are paid to sabotage the Niger Delta struggle. Yet, the DSS is shielding these criminals because they (are) working against the interest of the Niger Delta people.
“The NDA has not shared (shed) any blood; or partake in sea piracy, hostage taking. That is not our style,” the group added.