Former Acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Pastor Power Aginighan and a Niger Delta activist, Sheriff Mulade, last weekend reportedly appealed to the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, and other militant groups in the region not to resume bombing of oil installations to give the Federal Government the needed opportunity to take a holistic approach towards the development of the Niger Delta region.
Spokesperson of NDA, the militant group that had claimed responsibility for many attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta last year, self- styled Brig-General Mudoch Agbinibo, weekend, said that it had asked its fighters to prepare to fight the “enemy” as it claimed Nigerian authorities were not ready for dialogue. This came as soldiers stormed the guesthouse of a former militant leader and member of the Delta State Waterways and Land Security Committee, DSWLSC, Bounanawei Smith, aka King of the Forest, in Warri, Delta State, and whisked him away. Speaking in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on the occasion of his 58th birthday anniversary, Pastor Aginighan pleaded with the NDA to explore the option of dialogue initiated by the Federal Government to resolve issues of underdevelopment in the region. Aginighan said dialogue had the capacity to bring enduring peace in the region, stressing that it should be given a chance.
He said, he was grateful to God for the gift of life, noting that the younger generation should see hard work and prayer as the twin roads to success. Aginighan was a former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, NDDC, before he was appointed acting Managing Director of the Commission. He is currently one of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Delta State.
Mulade, who spoke in Warri, also urged the militants to allow the prevailing peace in the region to be sustained, saying that peaceful negotiation was the only way to go. He asserted: “I want to state it here that we cannot allow the Niger Delta region to be a theatre of war. All militant groups in the region should give peace a chance. “The people of the region are tired of begging the Federal Government to develop the region producing the wealth of the nation. The needful should be done by this administration for the suffering people of the region. Government must do everything humanly possible to avert unnecessary crisis that will further ruin our economy.” Bounanawei Smith was said to have been arrested while hosting some Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, members at the guest house at Esiso Estate, Warri,on Saturday, when the military struck. According to sources, IYC officials narrowly escaped death as the soldiers allegedly shot sporadically into his apartment.
Spokesperson of the IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, reportedly confirmed the arrest of Smith, and accused the federal government of stoking crisis in the Niger Delta with the continued invasion, arrest and detention of Niger Deltans, especially ex-agitators. He reportedly said: “The IYC condemn this naked, primitive and unwarranted display of force. It is on record that Mr. Bounanawei had since accepted amnesty and been very active in maintaining peace and security in the Niger Delta, especially in Delta state. Only a few days before his arrest he hosted a meeting of Ijaw and Urhobo leaders towards resolving the age-long inter communal crisis between Ogbe-Ijoh, Isaba, Diebiri and Aladja communities. “In recognition of this, the Delta state government appointed him into the Land and Waterways Security Committee and he has since been working closely with security agencies. The IYC wonders why the security agents would invade and arrest such a person like a common criminal by putting him in handcuffs and shooting sporadically inside his house instead of extending a formal invitation to him if he has any issue to clear with them,” he lamented.