FRESH militants, the New Delta Avengers (NDA), on Thursday, said they have accepted to sheathe their swords as a mark of respect for the elder statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
The former Minister of Information had earlier pleaded with the militant group to give room for dialogue with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State over allegations of ethnicity and nepotism against the latter.
NDA, in a letter titled: “Your Call for Ceasefire: Our Position” and circulated to journalists in Warri on Thursday, however, insisted that their earlier demands were sacrosanct, noting that there can be no peace without justice.
In the open letter signed by Ujato Etomi (Itsekiri), Ederikumor Brandy (Ijaw), Ekpeme Ujiro (Isoko), Andrew Ighotoja (Urhobo) and Ebendo Eguogo (Ndokwa), the group disclosed that Okowa’s comment that members of the group were emissaries, showed that he’s detached from the realities in the state.
“Nonetheless, we have decided to give peace a chance as directed by you, our father, to show our respect and support for your commitment and dedication despite the odds.
“Though we want to reiterate that our retreat is not total; it is bound by the time we face.
“We are giving you the requested window for your intervention, but we will not demobilize our armaments, hardware and men from locations where they have been camping since they were despatched three weeks ago until we are sure of positive result from you.
“We demand that the government must begin projects that reflect the statuses of oil bearing communities as ‘the geese that lay the golden egg in the state’.
“We demand similar commitment to payments of contractors handling jobs in Okowa’s areas and those in our land.
“There must be a commitment to funding DESOPADEC in order to save the lives of contractors who are dying from the burden of debts and hopelessness because of non-funding of the commission,” NDA averred.
The group, in addition, called on Okowa to release the alleged over N30 billion funds due to the commission since 2015 when he came into power.
It also asked the governor to give to the oil bearing communities all dues accruable to them
“The state assembly must also ensure that monies entitled to the commission are not only released, but are adequately monitored to ensure that they are utilised for projects.
“We will not fold our hands and look helplessly while our people are being robbed blind by politicians and their cohorts.
We remain committed to the development of our communities and those who are committed to the cause,” NDA warned.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon (Chief) F.O. Sheriff Oborevwori, has nipped in the bud a protest by unpaid contractors to the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) with a pledged that the issue would be looked into soon.
The speaker reaffirmed the state government’s commitment to address their plight, pleading with them to be calm.
The aggrieved contractors, under the aegis of DESOPADEC Indigenous Contractors Forum, had converged at the entrance of the Assembly Complex in Asaba to bring the attention of the government to their plight.
It will be recalled that the new militant group, at its inception about three weeks ago, said it emerged to ground the Okowa administration, which it accused of allegedly starving DESOPADEC of funds, adding that the governor was channeling all resources available to the state to develop his Ika North homeland at the expense of other parts of the state.
This allegation has, however, been refuted by the state governor at different fora, alleging that members of the agitators were sponsored emissaries who are not from the state.