Niger Delta militants under the umbrella of Niger Delta Watchdogs, a coalition of seven militant groups operating in the oil-rich region, have demanded 100 per cent control of resources in the region.
They threatened to declare the Republic of Niger Delta on October 1, 2017 except the Federal Government immediately restructure the country, and allow the Niger Delta people to have 100 per cent control of their resources.
They insisted that the October 1st quit notice they handed over to Northerners in the region remains. The militants stated that Northerners in the Niger Delta only have three more months to stay. They also demanded the return of oil blocs owned by Northerners to the people of the Niger Delta, and the return of oil companies to Niger Deltans.
The militants condemned the recent meeting Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had with Northern elders and youths. The militants, who made the declaration in a communiqué shortly after a meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday, also called for the relocation of the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Niger Delta.
The communiqué was jointly signed for Niger Delta Watchdogs by General John Duku, the convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators; General Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers); General Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Maj-Gen. Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters); and Maj-Gen. Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters).
Others are Maj.-Gen. Ibinabo Horsfall (Niger Delta Movement for Justice); Maj-Gen. Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network); Maj-Gen. Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate) and Maj-Gen. Ibinabo Tariah (Niger Delta Development Network).
The militants expressed surprise over the inability of the Inspector-General of Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Army in arresting the Arewa youths who issued the threat against Igbo in the North. Parts of the communiqué reads: “All Northerners living in Niger Delta have been given three-month notice to quit the Niger Delta before October 1, 2017.
“We still stand by our previous decisions, and we demand immediate return of oil blocs owned by Northerners back to the Niger Delta people.
“All oil and gas companies operating in oil bloc(s)/well(s) illegally owned by Northerners should also vacate such oil blocs/wells/platforms before October 1, 2017.
“We demand immediate relocation of NNPC Headquarters to Niger Delta and replacement of the Group Managing Director of NNPC with an indigene of Niger Delta.
“All offices/boards/ agencies that have anything to do with oil and gas should be relocated immediately to Niger Delta and all non-Niger Delta Directors/ staff replaced with Niger Delta indigenes.
“We are not surprised by the actions of the Inspector-General of Police, Department of State Services and even the Army, as they were all consulted and were fully aware of the threat by Northern youths before it was issued, that is why they are incapable of making any arrest.
“We are fully prepared to declare the Sovereign Republic of Niger Delta come October 1, 2017 the day of freedom is near; we therefore call on all our compatriots to remain focused, united and steadfast as the battle is going to be brief but fierce, the liberation of our people and motherland is our target, we shall liberate our people from the slavery of Nigeria; we shall bring to our people a nation that shall guarantee equal opportunity, justice and shall respect the rule of law and uphold the sanctity of human life.
“We want to sound this as a warning to all the Northerners living in Niger Delta to quit our land before October 1, 2017 as this is not just a threat.
“After October 1, 2017, any Northerner found within the Republic Niger Delta shall be seen as an intruder and shall be treated as such. We also use this opportunity to advise oil and gas companies in our territory to shut down further operations; PENGASSAN and NUPENG to warn/ withdraw their members from Niger Delta before October 1, 2017 or risk their lives. Our next action will surprise you.”
On the meeting Osinbajo held with Northern elders to find solution to the tension in the country, the militants said: “We condemn in totality the meeting held by the Acting President with some Northern elders and youths.
“We see it as a grand conspiracy; any responsible government should have arrested those traitors, instead of turning round to meet with them and plead for peace. Does the Nigerian government see people from other zones as second class citizens?
“Why are they more important to the Acting President? Why is it that Nigerian law is always weak when it involves the Northerners? We are still watching the unfolding events with keen interest.
“If Nigeria should still remain one, which we doubt, the Federal Government should immediately restructure the country; we demand 100 per cent control of our resources, adequate infrastructure development, equal opportunity for all, irrespective of ethnic background or political affiliation; adequate circulation of appointment across the geopolitical zones.”