Posted by Written by EMMA AMAIZE on
NIGER-DELTA militants say they have no admission of guilt for being branded as criminals by the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, pointing out that he is merely “intoxicated” by the office of governor and should guard his expressions to avoid unforeseen consequences.
*Vow to continue hostilities despite release of hostages
Port Harcourt—NIGER-DELTA militants say they have no admission of guilt for being branded as criminals by the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, pointing out that he is merely “intoxicated” by the office of governor and should guard his expressions to avoid unforeseen consequences. They maintained that if fighting for the rights of the people of the Niger-Delta meant going against the laws of the country, then, they would never withdraw nor lay down their arms. Spokesman of the main rebel group in the region, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND, Jomo Gbomo) in an exclusive online interview with Sunday Vanguard at the weekend, said, “The governor is entitled to the way he perceives us. If fighting for our right means we have to go against the law of a country that is criminal by injustice it has meted on the Niger Delta people, then we are proud to be branded as outlaws. The sword and the pen seem to be the only language our government understands.”
Speaking in a similar element, the spokesperson of the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), an amalgam of the MEND, Reformed Niger-Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (RNDPVF), Martyrs Brigade and other militant groups, Cynthia Whyte asserted: “it is not every comment from anybody that must be commented upon. You need to understand people and where they come from before you jump to respond to them”.
MEND, however, stated it was not its intention to bandy words with Governor Amaechi since Ijaw nationalist leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and other Niger-Delta leaders have responded to his misguided attack. According to the group, “Chief Clark is very correct. We decided to ignore the governor who seems to be intoxicated by the office, so we are happy that some one else has answered him. Without the militancy, the wool will still be over the eyes of many. Thank God, there are now fewer people like the governor still oblivious of what the so-called major tribes have done to us.
“The local and international media know a genuine struggle from criminality. Respected media houses will not report criminality on a regular basis. How many armed robbery occurring in Lagos has been reported on CNN?” Jomo Gbomo said. The JRC, nevertheless, asserted: “Whether he likes it or not, Rotimi Amaechi rode on the shoulders of Governor Peter Odili to become the current governor of Rivers State, it does not matter whether he was appointed by the Supreme Court or not. We believe that it was his destiny to become governor of Rivers State even if his tenure may some day be cut short by the same Supreme Court.”
“Where was Rotimi Amaechi when ‘cultists’ were being sponsored by his mentor and godfather? What did he do about it? Was he not the third most powerful man in Rivers State at the time? Until he explains to the people of Rivers State the various roles he played in that dispensation, we would suggest that he should be careful in his comments. Such outburst may bring him great bad luck if he is not careful. If today, he enjoys the temerity to brand militants as criminals, let us not forget that it is the same militants who gave him the guts to call them that name. There are many people today who pretend to be in the struggle for the liberation of the Ijaw and Niger Delta territory who undeniably have questionable characters.
“These characters have infected the purity and sanctity of the struggle. Their actions today have put loud question marks on the potency, ability and integrity of the Ijaw and Niger Delta struggle. At the appointed time, each one will receive his own judgment. Make no mistake”, the JRC spokesman stated. On the support given the militants by other Niger-Delta leaders, the MEND said, “Most leaders have political allegiance to their parties and godfathers and so we are careful about what they say. We are not committed to anyone except the oppressed people of the region and the fact that these politicians call us to thank us for a job well done confirms we are on track”.
On what was being done to separate the criminals bastardizing the struggle from the real freedom fighters, it said, “We will not go out of our way to do anything about it as it will be a futile effort. We can only clarify in some instances or deny our involvement in others. We still consider the so-called criminals as “strategic partners” as they have a role to play in the type of fight we will embark upon should the military launch an offensive. Every institution has its own good and bad guys; from the banks, military, police, customs, senate, reps, presidency etc so when they emphasise on the criminals in the struggle we just shrug it off as a pot calling the kettle black”, it said.
But the JRC puts it this way, “That process is one that will manage itself. There will always be a separation of the light from the darkness. That is an incontestable phenomenon. The laws of natural justice will surely take its course.” Cynthia Whyte explained further, “I believe that it is he who wears the shoes that knows where it pinches. We recognize that we have a problem of long drawn suffering of the people of the Niger Delta. We also recognize that this injustice has incited some measure of unrest. We also know that in driving the unrest like we have said earlier on, many characters were brought in to jumpstart the armed agitation process. Those who truly fight for the common good of their people will always enjoy the support of their people. Everyone accepts that the people of the Niger Delta have been short-changed for too long. Everyone accepts that we deserve a far better deal from those who lord over the coffers of the Nigerian state”, the JRC added.
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