The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has cautioned militants under the auspices of the Supreme Egbesu Liberation Fighters (SELF) to jettison violence under the guise of the alleged marginalisation of the region.
Ripples Nigeria had reported that the SELF in a viral video posted on Tuesday by Africa Independent Television (AIT), complained that “no meaningful progress has been made” with the Ogboni clean-up project “because the Nigerian government has decided to place politics against the meaningful development of our people.”
According to a masked member of the group: “After accepting the amnesty pact, to date, there are no schools, no potable water, no light, no hospital and access roads for our people to enjoy.
“We are coming to destroy all your infrastructure in Abuja and Lagos. As a group committed to giving total liberation to our people, we will destroy the oil facilities both onshore and offshore in no distant time, we will be seen to be crippling the Nigerian economy.”
However, PANDEF, led by a former Federal Information Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark, said even though it is in support of the issues raised by SELF, it abhors violence.
This was contained in a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson on Wednesday, February 24.
According to PANDEF, the issues raised by SELF are ”true” and in line with its calls for attention to be given to the youths of the Niger Delta.
It said: “We had said the youth will run out of patience and that things cannot continue the way they have been going on. How can we explain that the region that produces the revenue for the country …is one of the highest in the unemployment rate in the country? And you know of the population in the Niger Delta, about 50 percent of the people are under 30.
“As it were, we are sitting on a time bomb. These young men are unemployed, there are no jobs.
“The region is degraded economically. What we have today is a story of the struggle for survival because there are no jobs, livelihoods have decimated, our communities, our waterways, and our environment have been degraded. And then, you see resources from the land making billionaires every day out of an industry that operates in our backyard.
“While the military has become forces of intimidation and oppression in the Niger Delta, intimidating our young people, carelessly and unnecessarily destroying our communities on flimsy excuses, no community in the NorthEast or Northwest that the bandits and terrorists are marauding and ravaging have been destroyed by the military.
“But as a responsible organisation, PANDEF would denounce any act of violence because the adverse effect will be more on our people. We will continue to assuage our youths. They have every right to be angry in the face of these inconsistencies.”