WARRI- THERE was confusion, weekend, as the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA and its alleged splinter faction, Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, played dirty, the latter having released the names of 22 persons it claimed were sponsors, members and sympathizers of the principal group, Saturday evening.

An Ijaw leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, to our reporter on phone, lamented: “It is unfortunate that they have penetrated our boys with money and they are now using them to fight themselves. This is bad for the struggle.” Spokesperson of NDA, self styled Brig General Mudoch Agbinibo, had in a retort to Vanguard, said the group was intact and in a subsequent statement, fingered a top government official, former governor and ex-militant leaders hiding under the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, to announce the purported split.

“It is quite unfortunate that Cynthia Whyte and Jomo Gbomo of defunct Joint Revolutionary Council and MEND respectively are the spokesperson of the Nigerian intelligentsia community because of some political interest and a government that have abdicated powers to clansmen and tribal lords. ”The fact checks about Cynthia Whyte and his sponsors should be laid bare before the public now that the Nigerian security and intelligent community has turned the Niger Delta genuine struggle to a tool of political patronage and money making machine for miscreants and conflict merchants,” NDA said.

National president of Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, who RNDA listed his name among the operatives of Niger Delta Avengers, reacted to the allegation, yesterday, saying: “I have no business whatsoever with the Niger Delta Avengers. I am the President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the largest youth organization in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and not Spokesman of the Niger Delta Avengers.” He said” My attention has been drawn to a statement purportedly issued by a splinter group of the Niger Delta Avengers in which several Niger Deltans were mentioned as sponsors and operatives of the Niger Delta Avengers, including my humble self as the spokesman of the Niger Delta Avengers, who go by the name Brig. Gen. Mudoch Aginibo.

“Since the splinter group of the Niger Delta Avengers said they have broken away and repented from their old ways, I call on them to come out in open and identify themselves openly, instead of still using pseudo names such as Cynthia Whyte to issue statements. “Any discerning mind would know that the said statement purportedly naming sponsors of Avengers was issued by the promoters of the Aaron 2 MEND negotiation with the federal government. Their grouse against me is because I said in my recent interviews that MEND Aaron 11 team does have the mandate of the Ijaw and other Niger Delta people to negotiate with the federal government.

They are desperate because of the lack of credibility in what they are doing,” he said. Eradiri asserted: “I wish to state that no amount of desperation and blackmail would stop me from stating the position of the Ijaw people as far issues affecting the Niger Delta region are concerned. I was elected to promote and protect the interest of the Ijaw and Niger Delta people and not the selfish and personal interest of a few.” “I also want to put on record the consistent threat to my life by the promoters of the Aaron 2 MEND negotiation with the federal government. They have been consistently saying that they would deal with me.

“The security agencies, especially the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) already know them since they claimed to be negotiating with the government and should take note and appropriate actions on this threat,” he added. Meanwhile, spokesperson of IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, in a statement, Sunday, said called on security agents to stop the indiscriminate arrest of Ijaw and Niger Delta youths under the guise of fighting renewed militancy in the Niger Delta region. “In recent times, there have been indiscriminate arrests of Ijaw and other Niger Delta youths by security agents without charging any of them to court. So far, security agents have arrested Ijaw youths such as Mr. Simeon Bebenimino, Bomboy Oluba, Aboy Muturu, the Oporoza 10 and several others.

The latest of the victims of this indiscriminate arrest is Comrade Daniel Ezekiel, an Ijaw youth from Egebma Clan in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta. “Daniel Ezekiel, who is the spokesperson of a Niger Delta- based civil society organization, the Ijaw Peoples’ Development Initiative (IPDI) was arrested/abducted on Thursday, August 4, 2016 while on his way from Sapele to Warri in Delta State. “Up to the time of issuing this statement, the whereabouts of Mr. Daniel Ezekiel are unknown. In the days leading to the arrest/abduction of Mr. Ezekiel, he complained of threats to his life by some persons, who claimed to be working for the federal government and security agencies in the Niger Delta,” he said. His words: “Daniel Ezekiel is a passionate believer in the Niger Delta cause and like several young Nigerians has actively used the social media in articulating the Niger Delta cause.

The IYC wonders when it has become an offence to express one’s support for a cause through the social media.” Omare added: “After all, President Buhari is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the social media during the last presidential election; so why the clampdown on those who expresses dissent to his administration through the same medium? He stated: “The IYC wishes to strongly advise the federal government and agents of the federal government, including party chieftains not to use the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta as a political tool to arrest and silence opposing voices in the Niger Delta region.” “There are indications that more opposing voices in the Niger Delta may be arrested in the days ahead on the instigation of some politicians to settle political scores.

We call on President Buhari to call the security agencies to order, as indiscriminate arrest of Niger Deltans, especially those expressing dissent to the administration’s approach to issue affecting the region would not do him any good. “We reiterate our call for those under arrest to be charged to a court of competent jurisdiction in line with the rule of law or be released without delay,” he added

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