The leading militant group operating in the oil rich region of southern Nigeria, the Niger Delta Avengers, has rejected Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate as an emissary in the proposed dialogue with the Nigerian government.
In a statement issued on the Avengers’ website on Saturday, August 27, 2016, the militants said they were that Professor Soyinka is “going the infamous way” in his recent incursion into the Niger Delta crisis. The group denied reports that it had appointed Soyinka as its adviser.
Soyinka, had this week, disclosed to news media that some Niger Delta groups had contacted him and requested that he lead negotiations with the federal government led by General Muhammadu Buhari.
“We are amazed that Prof. Wole Soyinka, has been taken on the jugular by enemies of the Niger Delta because of his belief that the government of the day should understand the need to restructuring and listen to the Niger Delta agitation positively” the statement titled, Niger Delta Avengers Is Ready, Whenever The Nigerian Government Is Ready, and signed by the group’s spokesperson, Brigadier General Mudoch Agbinibo, said.
Agbinibo said that the Delta Avengers has not named Wole Soyinka or some “incredible names” to advise or lead the group. And that insinuating such is a “lie of the century”. He said that Soyinka was being pushed by elements in the All Progressives Congress, APC, and that such moves have nothing to do with the professor.
“Putting the records straight; the name/names parading as factions of the Niger Delta Avengers are just the figment of some persons protecting their jobs and hell bent on derailing the wheel of progress in the history of Nigeria and the Niger Delta agitation,” the statement said.
“Our strike teams and command structures have not at anytime contacted these Nigerians at any time to advise or lead any contact with the government of Muhammadu Buhari on the Niger Delta agitation.
“We have shown our respect and restraints to personalities that have been too fixated to impress Abuja in the name of the Niger Delta struggle since the beginning of Operation Red Economy, ignorantly or willingly.
“The NDA cannot be teleguided by Mr. Charles Okah and Henry Okah from their respective prison cells using disorganised characters of the All Progressive Congress, APC, from the Niger Delta to impress Abuja.
“We are not unaware of the creations of the Nigerian Intelligentsia community and security apparatus to sustain the Niger Delta struggle to bloat their pocket and credibility.
“The Niger Delta Avengers have unequivocally given our tacit support to the Chief Papa (Dr.) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark Niger Delta Elders and Stakeholders conference committee to lead the Pan Niger Delta Negotiations/Dialogue Team, whenever this wicked entity called Nigeria shows readiness,” the statement ended.
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.