The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has confirmed there are on-going peace talks between its representatives and the Federal Government.
MEND had set up a team of negotiators it called Aaron team 2 led by former minister Odein Ajumogbobia and other prominent Niger Delta leaders to discuss with the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the Niger Delta crisis.
President Muhammadu Buhari had first disclosed the Federal Government participation in the peace talks during a farewell audience with the outgoing German Ambassador Mr Michael Zinner.
This disclosure was immediately denied by the spokesman of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) Mudoch Agbinibo that the group was not part of the talks. Also other militant groups had denounced the peace talks insisting that MEND cannot represent it in any peace talks since it( MEND) has already taken sides with the Federal Government.
However spokesman of MEND, Jomo Gbomo in a statement has indeed confirmed the talks noting that there are going talks being led by International Oil Companies (IOCs) and law enforcement agencies.
Gbomo who said the talks are still at the preliminary stage disclosed that the Federal Government has made it clear that it would not hold talks with criminals.
According to him the groups in the Niger Delta region which he referred to as internet based militant groups cannot be part of the talks as they are criminals.
The statement read in part “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to confirm that indeed it has been in preliminary talks with the Federal Government through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies as revealed by President Muhammadu
Buhari on Thursday, July 21, 2016.
These preliminary talks are the precursor to a wider dialogue between the Federal Government and the MEND Aaron 2 peace initiative which will seek to find solutions to the short, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta region.
The Federal Government made it clear during our meetings that a negotiation with criminals is out of the question.
The Niger Delta Avengers, internet-based ‘militant’ groups such as Joint Revolutionary Council, Ultimate Warriors etc., an Ijaw opportunistic tribal assembly who were compromised to keep silent
during the six years of Goodluck Jonathan’s misrule and neglect, pirates, pipeline vandals, oil thieves, commercial kidnappers, waterway robbers, political thugs and miscreants all fall under this category”.