Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the new militant group, has been quoted by International Business Times UK as vowing to kill President Muhammadu Buhari as he is billed to make an official visit today to Rivers State.
But the Nigerian military has dismissed the threat, describing members of the militant group as criminals. “Buhari can go wherever he wants”, says Brigadier-General Rabe Abubakar, Director, Defence Information.
President Buhari is due to be in Rivers State where he is to launch the project for the clean-up of the degraded land of Ogoni covering four local governments, as recommended in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report.
The threat on the president’s life followed an earlier attack on two Chevron facilities in Warri in the early hours of Wednesday, which the militant group had claimed responsibility. The attacks on oil pipelines blamed on the Niger Delta Avengers had halted oil production, and forced Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell to close at least two plants.
A suspected member of the Niger Delta Avengers had warned that the life of President Buhari was in danger if he went ahead with his planned visit to the region.
The report of the militant’s threat to kill the president went viral Wednesday on the social media, after the news broke in the foreign media.
IBTimes UK, quoting from a recorded voice, claims a man is heard saying during a phone conversation with one of the hosts of UK-based Radio Biafra, that Buhari “should sign his death warrant” before his visit.
“Buhari is trying to visit Ogoniland, but he should sign his death warrant before coming to Port Harcourt or try to visit any state of the Niger Delta community, Biafra land,” the suspected NDA member said during the phone call.
“We are starting a dance he cannot finish. We shall dance like vultures. He (Buhari) has dared to wake a sleeping lion, but I promise him this time around if he tries to step his foot in any community of the Niger Delta, in Biafraland, he will not go back alive. Any Niger Deltan who will try to walk with Buhari shall also go to his grave that day. This is our assurance.”
The man also condemned the fact that Nigerian security forces opened fire on pro-Biafran demonstrators during commemorations to pay homage to the victims of the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War, also known as Biafran War, on Monday (30 May 2016).
Police confirmed the deaths of 10 protesters and two police officers during clashes in Anambra state, claiming demonstrators were armed, but pro-Biafrans denied the allegations.
“The Nigerian government shot and killed our brothers. They showed us are the monsters,” the man said.
He then urged all pro-Biafrans to pray for their leader Nnamdi Kanu, director of Radio Biafra and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who is standing trial on six counts of treasonable felony charges.
Niger Delta Avengers are the latest militant group to wage war against the Nigerian government, having accused the ruling party of marginalising people in the oil-rich Niger Delta
Reacting to threat to the president’s life, Brigadier General Abubakar, told IBTimes UK that the government does not perceive NDA as a threat. “Niger Delta is part of Nigeria and will remain part of Nigeria for life. Buhari is the president, he is Number One, he can go anywhere he wants,” he said.
“(The) NDA are just criminals and we are treating them as criminals. We are not being intimidated, we remain focussed to ensure security in the country and that Nigeria remains one. Nobody is above the interest of the country,” he continued.
“No nation can tolerate an individual group causing havoc and advocating for separation. There are measures in our constitution to ensure this will not happen. We cannot and will not tolerate what these people are doing. In the long run, they will surely pay for they have done.”
As expected, Ogoni kingdom is electrified as the four local government areas that make up that entity prepares for the first official visit of President Mohammadu Buhari to Rivers state for the flag off of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Report today.
Before now, there have been series of meetings by politicians particularly of the major two political parties from Ogoni area: All Progressives Congress (APC) at the center and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the state.
This much was attested to by the former senator who represented the Rivers South East Senatorial District, Senator Magnus Abe when he said that the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report in Ogoni land was the fulfillment of APC campaign promise.
Abe frowned at a situation where anytime credit is given to APC and himself for the project, the state chapter of PDP would say that the implementation should not be politicized.
“What is disturbing to me now is that now that we are set to implement the report, every time I open my mouth and say something, you will hear people say don’t politicize the report and I ask what the politicization of the UNEP report is?
“Is it the voice of Senator Abe that is now politicization of the UNEP report? This was the same voice when I went to every village in Ogoni land. It was our campaign slogan in the APC- $1 billion dollars, APC. It was a campaign promise by the APC presidential candidate. The implementation of the UNEP report in Ogoni land is the fulfillment of an APC campaign promise. It is a programme of the APC-led federal Government of Nigeria”.
Abe said that our politics would be better if we learn to give credit to a party that fulfilled its campaign promise, pointing out that in so doing, there would be a healthy competition among parties to fulfill their promises.
Senator Abe went further to say that “Governor Nyesome Wike was in Ogoni land to launch the Saakpenwa-Kono road, which a lot of people have described as politics and that it’s just a response to the visit of the President and the elections in the area.
“Everybody there was making speeches how the former government did not do it. We know that that was politics but it does not stop me as an Ogoni man from being happy that the governor remembered us.
“It does not stop me from appreciating the fact that he is going to do a road that we need and I would be one of those who will use the road even though I’m not in PDP. Every Ogoni son who wants to pass on that road will use the road. So, we are all happy that the governor came to do that”.
Abe went on to say that “I do not want to make an issue out of the fact that from the information available to me what was projected or budgeted for the road is N100million. It means there was actually no plan to do the road at this time.
“But if he is doing the road, we are happy about it and I thank him for remembering us at this time. I think that in the same vein, the PDP members in Ogoni should be gracious enough to thank us and President Buhari for the APC government coming to keep its promise to the Ogoni people.
“I think it is the determination of the PDP not to acknowledge that this is the fulfillment of a promise by the APC government that brings up the issue of anytime you open your mouth and say this is APC government; they say you are politicizing the report”.
Responding to Abe’s postulation, the state Governor, Nyesom Wike said “As part of measures to enhance security during Mr. President’s visit I hereby place a ban on the operations of motorcycles and tricycles in Gokana and Khana Local Government Areas between 6 a.m. and 6 pm on Thursday, 2nd June 2016. The security agencies have been directed to enforce this ban and ensure full compliance.
“I call on Rivers people, particularly the people of Ogoniland, to come out in great numbers and give our amiable President a rousing welcome during his visit.”
Wike said “the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, CGFR, is paying an official visit to Rivers State, tomorrow, Thursday, 2nd June 2016 to formally launch the cleanup of Ogoniland and other oil impacted communities in the Niger Delta.
“Mr. President’s visit to the State is both historic and significant. It is historic because it marks his first official visit to the Sate since assuming office as the President of this great nation. It is most significant because Mr. President is not on a political mission but to kick-start the largest environmental cleanup in our nation’s history, for which Rivers people, and indeed the Niger Delta will remain grateful. ”
“As I have noted earlier, Mr. President is here as the father of the nation who cares about the environmental and developmental challenges that we face as one of his primary constituencies, Wike said.”