Ijaw hard boyz deny ties to al-Qaeda
Ijaw militants under the aegis of Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have denied any link with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group.

This is coming on the heels of a declaration by Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, that military option may be the last in resolving the Niger Delta crisis should other attempts fail.

But prominent Nigerians have cautioned against use of force in resolving the crises in the region.

Senator Jubril Aminu and Methodist Church Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Reverend Emmanuel Ogunyemi, speaking at different fora, said a military solution will only achieve a fragile peace in the volatile region.

Mend's denial was contained in a press release signed by its spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte and made available to Daily Champion in Port Harcourt.

"Let us also use this medium to renounce any affiliation or association with any terrorist group or network such as al-Qaeda," the statement declared.

MEND, Whyte insisted, owe no allegiance to any terrorist network and does not need the assistance of any terrorist group to carry out its agenda.

The action of MEND, the release explained is in line with the doctrine and belief of its patriotic and esteemed leader, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo Asari.

It added that the activities of the group is a genuine attempt by a neglected, oppressed and subjugated people to mete out justice to their oppressor.

The campaign, the statement said shall be strategic, hard hitting and vengeance seeking as the anger in their hearts, the loss and theft of their livelihood and resources is a good enough motivation.

On their reaction to the recent occupation of Exxon Mobil facility in Eket, Akwa Ibom by some militants, Whyte stated that if the company refuses to honour its obligation to victims of the 1998 oil spillage, MEND shall unleash a festival of carnage on all their operations in the Niger Delta.

The release described as arrogant and irresponsible, response from officials of Exxon Mobil on the demands of the people as well as their resort to labelling youths from the Niger Delta.

MEND announced that it has launched out a new initiative in the Niger Delta which is all encompassing, community driven and bottom up as the exploited communities now have an open option to resort to strategic military to get their wishes done.

According to the release, nationalist groups in the Niger Delta are building new synergies and working partnership to challenge the old ways of gross neglect and gross exploitation.

The group declared that it has taken its destiny in its hands and shall no more give a free ride to the Nigerian route and her cohorts in the despoliation of the region and continued campaign to destroy the environment and decimate her people.

Warning that MEND would not tolerate any irresponsibility from the Nigerian state or oil companies, the release insisted the group's 21 day deadline will only be waived by the superior directive of Dokubo - Asari.

The CNS however stated that the federal government is applying the options of political and economic solution to resolve the problems but noted that where these fail the last option which is military solution may be adopted.

Admiral Adekeye stated that the Niger Delta crisis is not for the Navy but a national problem which requires the involvement of everybody and contributions to resolve.

The CNS told newsmen in Warri officers and men of the Navy are very much alert to the situation both in the Niger Delta and other areas in the country. He however, could not disclose whether the Navy had recorded any casualty since this present crises began the region.

He said he was in Warri to confer with the officers and men of the NNS Delta, Naval base, Warri over the security situation in the area, and to carry out the routine inspection of their installations.

Present at the briefing were the Flag Officer Commanding FOC Western naval command, Rear Admiral John Kpokpogiri, the commander Naval intelligent; Navy Captain Jacob Ajani, Captain Mufutau Ajibade; commanding officer NNS Delta and other top Naval personnel.

Daily Champion gathered that the presence of the CNS in Warri may not be unconnected with deteriorating security situation in the Warri water ways. Just last week, a vessel conveying about 150,000 metric tonnes of premium motor spirit (PMS) known as petrol was attacked by militants in the water way.

Another barge that was conveying construction material to Focados, an offshore location in the area was also attacked by the militants leaving four soldiers and a mobile police officer dead. A similar incident about forthnight ago resulted in the lost of over N50 million by the crew of vessel and the entire content of the vessel to the militants.

Meanwhile, Senator Aminu who is Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations advised President Obasanjo to exhaust all available means of political settlement in resolving the crisis.

Senator Aminu who spoke to newsmen in Yola on Sunday stated that any other option outside political solution will not last. "I don't believe in military solution but I believe that political solution has got to be allowed to work. The way to do it is to allow all parties take part in the political solution," he said.

Senator Aminu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator, representing Adamawa Central Senatorial District also described the agitation of the Niger-Delta Militants as "genuine" but kicked against harassment of oil workers in the region.

Senator Aminu who spoke after a three day constituency tour of his district in Adamawa also described as "criminal" act by government officials who embezzle the people funds instead of developing their states. The governors have been sharing the funds meant for the development of their state and end up doing nothing for the people" he stated.

Answering questions on the recent adoption of the third term by Senator Ibrahim Mantu-led Constitution Review Committee, Senator Aminu appealed to Nigerians to allow the lawmakers do their job.

"If you believe that you have elected them and they are your representatives I think they should be allowed to do their jobs," he said.
Posted by: Dan Darling 2006-03-14