The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has announced that it is suspending hostilities against the government immediately, in response to May 29 appeal by President Goodluck Jonathan.
During his ‘Democracy Day’ speech, Mr. Jonathan said the government’s doors remained open to the country’s aggrieved armed groups for dialogue and reconciliation.
In response, MEND indicated its readiness to take the government up on its offer, urging the president to demonstrate his sincerity by suspending court proceedings and dropping all charges against its members who are awaiting trial, and granting a presidential pardon to those already tried and convicted
To ensure transparent build up to a successful dialogue, the group demanded the release of MEND fighters still in detention facilities, including the Okah brothers, Henry and Charles.
Expressing its disappointment in the past with the insincerity of governments, the group said “Instead of addressing our concerns and dialogue on the root issues that led us to take up arms, the government, based on bad advisers, arrogantly jettisoned dialogue with our negotiation delegates, the Aaron Team in 2009, arrested and incarcerated perceived critiques.”
According to the statement, since that slight, the Jonathan government has known no peace from the Niger region in spite of billions poured into propaganda and security.
That slight, it said, was also responsible for the Independence Day attack of October 01, 2010, which it carried out to counter the impression that MEND has ceased to exist just because a few greedy, short sighted and misguided elements within and outside its ranks had chosen to betray their people.
It expressed regret that avoidable lives were lost on that day due to the refusal of the security agencies to act on its advanced warning ahead of the attack.
MEND also warned that while it is a natural instinct to support one’s own, its struggle has never been about a Niger Delta President or 2015, adding that it is looking at 2060, when the oil wells may have run dry, and the future consequences to that generation yet unborn.
“We hold you to your words, as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) declare a ceasefire effective 0700Hrs, Friday 30 May, 2014 by calling off our ‘Hurricane Exodus’ campaign and other acts of sabotage; especially our incessant attacks on gas and oil pipelines, erroneously or mischievously attributed to oil thieves,” the statement said.
It further stated that initial discussions will be facilitated through the Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Mr Kingsley Kuku, whom it will be comfortable to work with.
“Your response to us in the coming days and weeks may discourage or encourage other insurgent groups to follow suit, bringing about the real peace in our country that comes only after justice,” the group noted.