The week began with a news story by an online tabloid in which a purported splinter group from the leading militant group operating in the oil rich region of southern Nigeria, the Niger Delta Avengers had emerged.
The new group called itself the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, went on allege that former President Goodluck Jonathan is the ‘grand patron’ of the Avengers and a list of leaders from the Niger Delta region were named as “sponsors” and “symphatisers” of the Avengers.
In swift successions, beginning from the former president, the people named in the said press statement refuted the claims of the RNDA. You may read their statements HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
What created a media storm, however, wasn’t what the press statement said, but the name used to sign the press statement – Cynthia Whyte, a moniker used by the spokesperson of a defunct first-generation Niger Delta militant group, the Joint Revolutionary Council, JRC.
The Joint Revolutionary Council is a group that was aligned with the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND. The use of Cynthia Whyte ignited speculations that MEND is behind the so-called Avenger’s breakaway group.
The Niger Delta Avengers issued a statement labelling Cynthia Whyte as a fraud and, pretty much like all other rebuttals, said that disgruntled elements MEND are trying to seek patronage from the Buhari government by causing confusion in the oil-rich region.
Cynthia Whyte contacted the editors at The Trent in the evening of Thursday, August 11, 2016 and offered to grant us an exclusive interview on the controversy. She named the persons behind the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers and also promised that they would be exposed in due time.
Below are excerpts from the explosive interview:
Q: Has the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC) collapsed into the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers? Recently, press release signed by you Cynthia Whyte was loudly published by Sahara Reporters naming former President Goodluck Jonathan, Tompolo, Kingsley Kuku, Governor Nyesom Wike, former Akwa Ibom governor and now Senator Godswill Akpabio, and some others as sponsors of the Avengers.
CW: We have released expressly a refutal and a rebuttal of that stupid, fraudulent and malicious press statement. It did not come from us (the JRC) and it was not signed by me. It was an exercise in mischief orchestrated by some of the most despicable human beings in the Niger Delta who would go to any length to beg for crumbs that fall of the table of some aides of the Buhari administration. In the next few days, they will be exposed one by one.
Let me emphasize yet again that the Joint Revolutionary Council, an alliance group comprising of a few other militant elements is now defunct.
Apart from being defunct, the name ‘Cynthia Whyte’ which is ‘fluid’, is no more operational as a spokesperson for either the JRC or any other. Any other who signs a press release from an email address other than this is not just an impostor but a being with mischievous existence.
For ten years, beginning in September 2005, this has been the official email address of Cynthia Whyte ([email protected]) and it is for reasons as this that we have kept this email account active so that unscrupulous elements who survive from rent seeking and satanic blackmail will not hijack the process and hoodwink gullible Nigerians and the international community.
This is what happened a few days ago when an impostor set out to deceive their rent masters and malign the names of notable sons and daughters of the Niger Delta. Shame on all of them.
What is most sickening is the fact that some of the media houses who carried the story have been in the email list of ‘Cynthia Whyte’ for almost a decade now. It is bewildering that there was no verification whatsoever before any publishing. It shows you just how cantankerous some units with the Nigerian state operate.
There was a time when news agencies especially those with honor, confirm press releases and verify channels (email addresses and phone numbers) before they publish. That differentiates between junk and real.
It was a full conspiracy but they failed. They set out to tarnish the name of Goodluck Jonathan and the others but they failed woefully. In time, we will ensure that they are disgraced.
Former President Jonathan has never sponsored or encouraged violence in all his life in politics. It is for that reason that many of the militant leaders in the Niger Delta continue to remain at war path with him. Some of them have even gone as far as attempting to attack him and his properties.
The attempt to tarnish the image of Nyesom Wike, Godswill Akpabio, and the others is another ludicrous and mischievous adventure by those hooligans who feel that that is the only way they can impress President Buhari and his lieutenants.
Why would any Governor from the Niger Delta want to sponsor, patronize or sympathize with any violent agitation when they know how badly it would affect the monthly income of the state and starve them of the funds they require to drive development and progress?
President Buhari should beware of the mischievous bandits who are driving this new campaign of calumny. Some of them are retired militant leaders from Bayelsa and Delta State who have made lots of money in past time through character blackmail and sabotage. It is their stock in trade. They lack neither the skill or ability to engage in more progressive endeavors.
Q: How about the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA and Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND?
CW: There is nothing like MEND. MEND is dead. MEND promoters accepted amnesty and gave up violence. Henry Okah accepted amnesty in Nigeria and returned to South Africa. We do not know what happened to him there. Boyloaf and the others also said that he accepted amnesty. You may need to verify from them now what their current position is. I cannot speak for everyone.
Tompolo too accepted amnesty and then starting working with competent and skilled Gbaramatu people to build productive businesses. There are few people who have encouraged the peace through creating jobs, opportunities, scholarships, etc like Tompolo. Go to Gbaramatu land and see what Tompolo has done for his people.
Someone who loves creating jobs and opportunities cannot support violence. You cannot encourage people to go to school and still encourage them to carry guns and bomb pipelines.
RNDA is a fraud that must be exposed in record time. The efforts of the fraudulent RNDA and the mischievous MEND is what is causing Avengers not to come to the table and negotiate with the Nigerian state.
You cannot bring peace to the Niger Delta when you work with unrepentant frauds and hardened criminals who parade under the nomenclature of RNDA and seek negotiations through a group as dead as MEND.
Q: Why do you think your name is being used by this group, wouldn’t it be easier to just create a new moniker? There are suggestions that former MEND leaders are behind this new campaign. Could you tell us something more about what you know?
CW: The process of unearthing the dastard collaborators is already on. Somehow, however, maybe as a result of their stupidity and the fact that they are in a hurry to impress their masters who happen to be aides of the Buhari junta, they have already began to expose themselves.
Few hours ago, Jomo Gbomo of the now defunct MEND issued a press release lending credence to the statements made by the impostor ‘Cynthia Whyte’ of their imagined Reformed NDA? What does that tell you?
They did not create another moniker because they felt using a better known ‘Cynthia Whyte’ will draw more attention and sympathy to their demented and myopic cause.
One of the reasons why this is happening is that some inmates (who are being held for the 2010 Independence Day Bombing) at Kuje Prisons, surprisingly, have access to mobile phones and the Internet.
As a result, they can issue these reckless press statements in partnership with some Abuja based former MEND leaders who are now desperate to pick from the crumbs that fall off President Buhari’s table.
JRC is defunct. The name ‘Cynthia Whyte’ is no more operational with respect to agitation in the Niger Delta. We have kept the email address secure and functional to prevent impostors from taking the day like we have just seen.
RNDA is a fraudulent entity created by some Abuja based (one is an inmate of Kuje prison) former MEND elements.
Q: The Niger Delta Avengers have captured the imagination of the entire world. So far, apart from rumours, nobody knows has identified any Avenger. Do you know who the Niger Delta Avengers are?
The Avengers are known to themselves. I am sure that at the appropriate time, like the MEND leaders you know now, they will also make themselves known to others.
That in itself explains why these dubious former MEND leaders (who were well known criminals, armed robbers, commercial kidnappers before they were graciously given amnesty by the Yar’Adua Government) will resort to use the moniker ‘Cynthia Whyte’ to color the non existent RNDA.
Let them come out and explain how they bombed critical oil and gas infrastructure during their sojourn in Avengers. In fact as it is now, it is the recalcitrant former MEND elements that should be held liable for acts of insurgency in the Niger Delta.
How can a dead MEND that exists only with an email address controlled some fellow incarcerated in Kuje prison seek to negotiate on behalf of Avengers? Did any other group negotiate for the Henry Okah MEND Team when they were relevant?
Even when people like Boyloaf accepted the Yar’Adua Amnesty and left the creeks, did MEND not initially deny and then later claimed to disown when it was clear that the man had moved?
To be continued….
You mentioned earlier that disgruntled militant elements in the Niger Delta are not happy with former President Goodluck Jonathan because of his peaceful stance and that they attacked his properties. Could you explain more on this?
Does it not interest you that just in the same week that US Presidential Contender Donald Trump accuses President Obama as being Founder of ISIS, a a bunch of hardened and desperate criminals from with links to the deformed and defunct MEND are busy accusing Goodluck Jonathan of funding Avengers?
Is it not for the same reason of not giving them money that they are attacking him (Jonathan) today?
The same people who are accusing Jonathan that he did not allocate oil blocks and large oil allocations are the same people accusing him of funding Avengers today.
Were the not the people who attacked his house in Otueke years ago, when he was Vice President, because they accused him of not sharing money for them?
Do not worry. They will fully exposed in good time. There is a limit to how much criminal mischief can go.
Q: Lastly, what do you think is the solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta. Just today, President Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigeria suddenly became a poor country because of the slump in oil prices and cut in production occasioned by the attacks on oil installations of which the Niger Delta Avengers is the leading militant group.
CW: It is near foolhardy to talk about a total solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta. Not with the current nature, geometry and regional politics of the Nigerian state.
Nigeria as it is cannot give a solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta. It is the people of the Niger Delta, when they suddenly REALIZE that they have been pushed to the wall enough, who will rise up and fix the Niger Delta.
Until 1914, the Niger Delta had no official business with geographic space called Nigeria. Until we revisit the antics of imperialist Britain that lead to the amalgamation of Nigeria where ethnic nationalities were forcefully conscripted to create the Nigerian state, it is not realistic to talk about a holistic solution to the Niger Delta crisis.
Rather those who currently lord over the Nigerian state should identify quick impact deliverables and palliatives that will reduce poverty, build infrastructure and improve the quality of lives of the people of the Niger Delta.
There was a time when Nigeria did not have any oil yet Nigeria was not called a poor country. The Nigerian state is overburdened by too many unproductive units. How much is the internally generated revenue of Katsina State? How can there be prosperity in Rivers State when the oil resources from Rivers State is used to pay salaries of civil servants, build roads and bridges etc in Katsina State? How can Bayelsa State be able to pay salaries when the oil resources of Bayelsa state is carted away to build roads, bridges, and universities in unproductive states?
Nigeria is not poor. It is the mentality of the current lords of the Nigerian state that is poor. When people with a poor mentality run an economy, they cannot think out of the box. They cannot see beyond their nose. Sometimes, they cannot even hear what smart economists tell them.
Why should you complain about ‘Nigeria’ being poor when it took you more than six months to set up an executive cabinet and an economic team? Instead, you preferred to go on an international travel spree visiting more than 20 countries in a record 7 months!
How did he feel when he was received by cabinet members of the many countries he visited?
President Buhari should blame himself and take full responsibility for the current appalling state of the Nigerian state.
Compare President Muhammadu Buhari with British Prime Minister Theresa Mary May.
Less three days after she was announced as Britain’s Prime Minister, she ruthlessly overhauled the British cabinet, sacking a raft of ministers, promoting loyalists and putting supporters of Britain’s exit from the European Union firmly in charge of negotiating its terms.
For two whole months, 10 Downing Street was busy. Not with people who were coming to shake her hands, pat her back, waste presidential man-hours and increase national performance downtime but by people who knew that they had to fix the consequences of Brexit and make Britain great again.
She did not start her tenure by gallivanting through European Union countries or the United States to go and greet Obama! She hit the ground running. There was work to be done.
Politics must be put aside and the best brains brought forward so that they can fix the sick Nigerian state. Those who drive the current agitation in the Niger Delta cannot have any productive negotiation with a sick and unhealthy Nigerian state.
There are those who say that President Buhari will collapse ‘Nigeria’. And there are those who believe. Not sure how many though.
And then, let me ask you. Has President Buhari visited the Niger Delta, the region that sustains the economy of Nigeria?
– End of Interview –
Who Are The Niger Delta Avengers?
Niger Delta Avengers is a new militancy group that is operating in the oil-rich region of Southern Nigeria. In the second quarter of 2016, the group emerged as the leading militant group mounting attacks on crude oil and gas installations in the troubled region.
The militant group say it is waging a war for a free Niger Delta Republic in what it tags, Operation Red Economy, with a view of halting crude oil production in Nigeria to force the government to grant the group’s demands.
The Avengers claims it has reduced oil production in the country to less than one million barrels a day. An analyst at VOA News corroborates the militants’ claims saying that oil production has dropped below one million barrels a day due to the waves of attacks on pipelines and oil installations.
The militant group has released its rules of engagement and says that it doesn’t kill anybody or attack oil workers or soldiers. The Delta Avengers called on all other groups operating in the region to abide by these rules of engagement. “We need God now, more than ever,” the group said in a statement.
The Niger Delta Avengers has presented an 11-point demand to President Muhammadu Buhari and the first is the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. [Download Conference report HERE.]
President Muhammadu Buhari recently rejected the Avengers’ demands saying that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. The president’s first reaction to the Avengers was to declare war against them. He later promised to “crush them” as he did Boko Haram. That position has shifted to begging them in the ‘name of Almighty God’ to stop the attacks.
Pro-Biafra secessionist group, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has pledged “total allegiance” to the Niger Delta Avengers extolling the militant group for supporting the cause of a free Biafra. MASSOB embraces the tenets of nonviolence. It is led by Ralph Uwazuruike, a lawyer.
In June, 2016 the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, another secessionist group pledged its support for the Niger Delta Avengers, saying the groups’ ideal of freedom align.
The MEND Factor
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, is believed to be a defunct guerrilla militant group and one of the largest of the groups which waged a campaign against oil production in the Niger Delta region that successfully crippled the nation’s economy from 2005 till 2009.
Some of the leaders of MEND were Henry Okah, who is currently serving a 24-year jail term for the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja; Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo who is in a running battle with the Buhari government and has called on the Avengers to embrace dialogue with the federal government; Ateke Tom, whose Niger Delta Vigilante merged with MEND; and Ebikabowei Victor Ben, also known as Boyloaf who recently named Tompolo as the sponsor of the Niger Delta Avengers.
At the height of the war, the late President Musa Yar’Adua declared Tompolo as the most wanted man in Nigeria. The Niger Delta restiveness only ended when the late President Musa Yar’Adua successfully negotiated a cease-fire and launched the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme in 2009.
Leaders of MEND took the presidential amnesty and ended the conflict.