Ignore militants’ October 1 quit notice, PANDEF tells Yoruba, Northerners in N/Delta

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Ovie Okpare, Warri

The Pan Niger Delta Forum, an umbrella body for Niger Delta leaders led by Chief Edwin Clark, on Sunday condemned the October 1 quit notice issued by a coalition of agitators in the region to Yoruba and northerners living in the oil rich region to leave.

PANDEF appealed to the people of the two regions to ignore the ultimatum, saying that a faceless group cannot speak for the people of the region and there was no basis for the October 1 quit notice for people of other regions resident in the Niger Delta.

A group, the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, had last week ordered northerners and the Yoruba in the Niger Delta to leave the region before October 1, 2017, and also threatened to resume attacks on oil installations in the region.

But PANDEF in a statement on Sunday described the ultimatum by the militant group as most irresponsible and should be jettisoned by Yoruba and northerners living in the region as it does not have the backing of the people of the region.

The statement signed by Dr. Alfred Mulade (Coordinating Secretary, PANDEF) said, “PANDEF, therefore, wishes to advise all law abiding persons from any section of the country, irrespective of tribe, creed or political affiliation, to remain calm, and go about their lawful endeavours, without fear of molestation, as everything is being done to ensure their safety and protection.”

It noted that PANDEF as the umbrella body for leaders of the various ethnic groups in the region is committed to the attainment of peace and sustainable development of the region and would constructively engage the federal government and all relevant stakeholders for the betterment of its people.

According to it, “This call, coming at a time when PANDEF leadership and stakeholders had a very useful meeting with Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, at the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Niger Delta, a few days earlier, is certainly not an attractive venture. Indeed, this group should know that there is no basis for this kind of this action; it is most irresponsible and should be discountenanced.

“PANDEF, therefore, urges all our compatriots in the Niger Delta Region, particularly the youths to remain calm, patient and patriotic, as we re-double our efforts towards the peaceful resolution of the challenges in the region, including the Restructuring of the country along the lines of Fiscal Federalism.”

The statement explained that a meeting between PANDEF and relevant stakeholders would hold in the next few days to discuss the various concessions reached with Mr. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the recent Inter-Ministerial Committee Meeting on the commitment of the Federal Government to dialogue with the leaders of the region.

It added that the proposed meeting would discuss issues such as “Immediate take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko; relocation of head and operational bases of Oil companies to their areas of operation in the Niger Delta region; inclusion of PANDEF in Inter-Ministerial Committee on Niger Delta; establishment of modular refineries in the region; improved funding of intervention agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Presidential Amnesty Programme.”

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