On Saturday, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, issued a statement that was as stunning as it was ironic. The Niger Delta Avengers’ splitter group released a list of almost who is who in Niger Delta naming them as those behind their recent economic sabotage campaign against the Nigerian state.
The group had since it broke away from the Avengers claimed responsibility for the attacks on some oil installations and had also stepped up demands for the emancipation of the region from what it called vice grip from the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy. It also insists on breakaway state for the oil rich Niger Delta region.
In a statement on Saturday by RNDA spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte, released list of those allegedly sponsoring the militants in the Niger Delta.
They are: “Goodluck Jonathan, the former president (grand patron), Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state Senator Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), ex-militant turned contractor; Raymond Dokpesi, the founder of the African Independent Television; Kingsley Kuku, an ex-special adviser to Jonathan on Niger Delta.”
Also on the list are: “Olisa Metuh, an ex-spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party; Oyege Nimi Brown, VIP Timothy, Joshua, VIP Timothy Joshua, Joshua Macaiver Paul Bebenimibo, Udengs Eradiri, Kimi Angozi, Patrick Akpobolokemi, Edwin K. Clark, Tony Uranta, Daniel Alabrah and Annkio Briggs.”
However, in a swift response to the allegation, President Goodluck Jonathan, who only last week was at the Aso Villa for a brief meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and had spoken vehemently about the unity of Nigeria and called for a common front against the continued disruption of oil installations, dismissed the allegation stressing that it was a calculated plot to instigate the Federal Government against him and probably get him killed.
The ex-president, who is currently in Zambia as head of the African Union election monitoring team, said through his spokesman that tagging him as one of the sponsors of the militants in the Niger Delta region was a ploy by the splinter group of the Avengers, Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, to instigate the Muhammadu Buhari government to go after him.
Dismissing the report, Ikechukwu Eze, Media Aide to former President Jonathan, described the allegation as “idiotic” and “too cheap a narrative,” and posited that the names of those listed as alleged sponsors and supporters of NDA suggested a political agenda informed the composition of the list.
The statement released by Eze reads in part, “For the avoidance of doubt, we are fully convinced that such an idiotic claim is too cheap a narrative, a facile contrivance so badly concocted that any discerning mind would easily see through its disingenuous and duplicitous nature,” the statement added.?
“Since it is not in our place to speak for all those named in the obvious fabrication, we are only intervening to the extent that its hidden intent poses a violent threat to the life of former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, a committed patriot who the Almighty God has given the grace and good health to rededicate his life to the service of humanity, after serving his dear nation as President to the best of his abilities.
“We are also not bothered by this baseless accusation, contented that we are not the only ones conversant with Jonathan’s widely-acknowledged sincere disposition to peace, non-violence and better human community.
‘We are however seized by the feeling of déjà vu occasioned by the resurrection of one dim character masquerading as ‘Cynthia White’, who had in the past served as the spokesperson for a notorious group that had all along shown its hand to be going after the life of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“Nigerians could recall that in 2007 when Jonathan emerged as the running mate to the late President Umar’ Yar’Adua in the People’s Democratic Party during that year’s presidential election, this very group invaded Yenagoa with hundreds of militants in an effort to assassinate him.
“Jonathan was only saved then by the spirited efforts of the combined forces of determined security men, who gallantly repelled the attack.
“Let us also not forget that members of this same group later invaded and bombed Jonathan’s compound in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, on a night he was scheduled to attend to an important matter in his country home. He was only saved by the grace of God, who in His infinite mercy created intervening factors that prevented Jonathan from sleeping in his country home that night.
“Do we need to remind anybody that the so called Cynthia White is the self-declared spokesperson of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, a violent and murderous underground group led by one Henry Orkah, which has not hidden its intention to destroy the former President?
“The unfortunate event of 1st October 2010 in Abuja at the Eagle Square during the Independence Day celebrations for that year, being presided over by the former President, bears out this conviction. It would be recalled that after an attempt to bomb the venue, with the mind of assassinating Jonathan and possibly other high profile local and international dignitaries in attendance, was thwarted by tight security deployment, the terrorists exploded their bombs in other parts of Abuja, resulting in the death of many innocent Nigerians.
“It is no secret that following that incident, Orkah, the leader of MEND was arrested, tried, convicted and jailed in South Africa over terrorism charges by the security authorities of that country. He remains in a South African prison till date while his associates in Nigeria are still being held in Kuje prison, Abuja.
“We, therefore, have no doubt in our mind that MEND, as a group contracted to go after Jonathan with the mind of assassinating him, is yet to abandon this criminal and ignominious craving. It is in this light that we view the purported statement issued by ‘Cynthia White’ as not only a sadistic continuation of this sick desire, but also a futile attempt to instigate the Federal Government to needlessly go after the former President.”
Meanwhile, in similar vein, aspiring national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, has denied links with resurgent militant group, Niger Delta Avengers.
Responding to the allegation, Dokpesi denied any connection with the separatist group.
“I don’t know who is giving that report; I don’t have any idea; I have never met any Avenger in my life I have no connection, association and I don’t know who they are. I have been committed to strengthening the unity and stability of the country.
“I don’t k know anything pertaining to any Avenger, I don’t know anything about any militant group. I have no connection, no association with any militant group, either on earth or anywhere in the world.”
Pius Ezenwa corroborated the position of Jonathan asserting that the group is seeking for political leaning and merely wants to use the political image and clout of the former president to legitimacy.
“The RNDA just wants a platform for legitimacy and believes the mere mention of Jonathan and the other big names in their list would give them needed clout and image which they badly need to be relevant in the scheme of things,” he said.
Similarly, Yusuf Abdullahi thinks the RNDA is desperately in need of relevance and associating its aspiration with the big-names will generate international clout and sympathy from people of the region who have clearly distanced themselves from the dastardly act.”
Friday Magazine knows that Jonathan has a strong support base in the Niger Delta and in the south of the country in general, with key oil-producing areas including Rivers state voting for the ex-president’s People’s Democratic Party in the 2015 general election.
The NDA itself has claimed that reports of separate factions within the group are unfounded. “The public and all sane minds should know that the entire household of the Niger Delta Avengers remain[s] intact,” said a statement posted on the group’s website Saturday.
Buhari’s administration has claimed on several occasions to be engaged in dialogue with militant groups in the Niger Delta, including the NDA, but the group itself has said such claims are untrue. The NDA has also disavowed links with MEND; the latter group has publicly stated that it is working with government to bring the renewed attacks to an end and has branded the NDA as “criminals.”


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