The leading militant group operating in the oil rich region of southern Nigeria, the Niger Delta Avengers, on Friday, July 22, 2016, denied claims by President Muhammadu Buhari, that his administration was holding talks with the militants for possible dialogue.
The president was quoted by the punch on Thursday, July 21, 2016, as saying that his government is “studying the instruments” of the amnesty programme.
The militants, who have claimed responsibilities for series of attacks on oil facilities across the Niger Delta region in recent times, however, denied holding any talks with the government.
In a statement issued by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, the group said they were not aware of any ongoing peace talks, stressing that they would only hold peace talks with the government if the international community were involved.
They alleged that the government was dialoguing with its own mercenaries which it engaged to derail the militants’ “genuine struggle” for the people of the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
“Our attention has been drawn to media report that the President is in touch with Niger Delta agitators including the Niger Delta Avengers but the truth is that we are not aware of any peace talk.
“If there is any such peace talk, it means the President is talking to their mercenaries set to disturb the genuine struggle of the agitators.
“President Buhari led government is not sincere to the Nigeria people and their foreign allies.
“If we are to engage in any peace talk we made it clear that the international community must be part of it. The President knows our demands. So they should stop deceiving the international oil companies, the general public and the international community.” The group said.
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.