Charles Okah after an appearance in court
In an official statement released on Sunday by MEND’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) says its ceasefire in the Niger Delta region has led to an increase in the production of crude oil and gas for the country, but the government is yet to keep up with its own bargain of releasing the Okah brothers, Charles and Henry.
The group also said the forthcoming meeting (scheduled to take place on October
31)between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Pan Niger Delta Group (PNDG) led by Edwin Clark on finding solutions to the crisis in the region proves that the president means well for the region.
The group said further that MEND had worked hard to get aggrieved militant groups to cease fire in the Niger Delta, an agreement it said it entered into with the federal government.
The statement by Gbomo read;
“MEND hereby welcomes and endorses the forthcoming meeting aimed at finding solutions to the current Niger Delta crisis to be held between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Pan Niger Delta Group (PNDG) led by Ijaw National Leader, Chief (Dr.) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark on Monday, October 31, 2016.
“The forthcoming meeting vindicates MEND and federal government’s continued insistence and belief, ab initio, that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari meant well for the sustainable peace and development of the hitherto neglected Niger Delta region.
“MEND reiterates that we were the first and only militant group in the Niger Delta region who were meaningfully and constructively engaged in talks with the federal government with a view to resolving the Niger Delta crisis; as duly confirmed by no less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari sometime in July 2016 in his farewell remarks to the outgoing German Ambassador, Mr. Michael Zinner.
“His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu later confirmed our claim when he informed the media that the Presidency was ‘waiting to receive the final agreement’.
“Following the fruitful talks, several concessions were secured by both parties. For the federal government, the major concession they secured was that, MEND pledged the group’s firm commitment to work assiduously to get all aggrieved militant groups in the region to cease fire and line up behind a single umbrella body.
“MEND duly kept to the terms of the agreement by leveraging on its vast contacts to prevail on militant groups, criminal elements amongst others to cease fire and recognise Chief Edwin Clark to lead the Niger Delta region in proposed talks with the Federal Government.
“And coming on the heels of a breakthrough, on August 27, 2016, MEND formally disbanded the Odein Ajumogobia-led AARON TEAM 2 and also lined up behind Chief Edwin Clark; in the overall interest and common good of the people of the Niger Delta region.
“The federal government, Nigerians and the international community would certain agree that, as part of these concerted patriotic efforts by MEND within the preceding 6 months of this year, relative peace has since returned to the Niger Delta region.
“The country’s oil and gas production capacity has also increased tremendously. However, in spite of MEND efforts, the Federal Government is yet to keep to the terms of the agreement reached with the group.
“Indeed, one of the key concessions secured by MEND was that the Federal Government would concede to the release of certain political prisoners, including but not limited to the Okah Brothers – Henry and Charles.
“Nevertheless, with news of the forthcoming meeting between President Buhari and the Chief Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Group, we are confident that the concessions already secured by MEND shall be respected by the Federal Government.
“Consequently, we urge members of the Chief Edwin Clark-led PNDG to put aside personal interests and ambitions of primitive aggrandizement. Rather, we implore them to realize that the Niger Delta region is at a Zebra crossing and therefore, they must remain steadfast and focused on their core mandate, to wit: restoration of sustainable and permanent peace and development of the region.”