12 April 2006

Nigeria: Niger Delta Militants Threaten to Kill Panel Members

Lagos — MILITANT Ijaw youths yesterday warned indigenes of Niger Delta against participating in the newly constituted presidential committee on socio-economic development of the region vowing to kill those who ignore its warning on the issue.

The youths under the aegis of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) said they would carry out the threat from April 25, seven days after the planned inauguration of the committee by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Daily Champion recalls that the president had after a four-hour meeting with stakeholders from the Niger Delta states April 5 announced the birth committee with a mandate to assess and collate short, medium and long term development progerammes in the region.

The committee is being chaired by President Obasanjo while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Uffot Ekaette would serve as its secretary. It is expected to be inaugurated by the president on April 18, 2006.

Members of the committee are drawn mostly from South South zone, Ondo state, oil companies, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and five nominees by the Federal Government.

But reacting to the setting up of the committee, MEND in a statement made available to Daily Champion declared war on indigenes of the region who participate in it.

Tagged "Operation Blue April", the movement said: "The gods had forced the hands of MEND to decree a bucket of blood against any Niger Delta son found within and around any person or group of persons or institution playing...with the vision of the Niger Delta emancipation.

"Niger Delta sons be warned, beware, be wise, be spared, the gods of Izonland had translated the true intents of the Obasanjo political scripts and it is poisonous to the sustainable posterity of the Niger Delta child.

"We the rebellion of MEND had prepared 50 blood wells to drown any Niger Delta native endorsed for the proposed committee, taking them as hostages on a tour through the creeks of Izonland as an educational tool for them to readily understand the temper of the gods".

The group said President Obasanjo lacked the moral authority to set up the committee since his administrations and the ones before it had failed to tackled the myriads of socio-economic problems confronting the region for many decades.

MEND reaffirmed its demands including the release of detained former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieseigha, leader Niger Delta Peoples Volunteered Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo Asari as well as its opposition to the proposed tenure elongation to the president and governors.

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