13 October 2008

MEND denies plans to meet with Technical Committee

There seems to be a breakdown, once again, of communication between government envoys and Delta militants. In an article published today in The Punch newspaper, a source close to the coordinator of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta said the sub-committee for Conflict, Militancy and Demobilisation of said body will be engaging militant groups such as the MEND and NDPVF at a meeting in Oporoza, Delta State.

Hours later, Spokesperson Jomo Gbomo of the Movement for the Emancipation a statement via email distancing the group from the proposed meeting.

"MEND can confirm that non of its bona fide members or leaders will be participating in that meeting. Any person or group that purports to represent MEND in that gathering should be regarded as imposters and fraudsters. Instead, we advice the technical committee to meet with Henry Okah who they can access for discussions on the way towards genuine peace and reconciliations. Henry Okah's position after such a meeting will be binding on us."

Although the hope was that MOSOP member Ledum Mitee would have some weight with Delta militants, it seems like no matter what the government throws at the militants, they are unwilling to sit down and talk. It is hard to blame them. For meaningful talks to happen, preconditions are generally necessary and those have certainly not been met. There continues to exist a state of heavy military repression in the Niger Delta and one of the MEND's key demands: fair treatment for Henry Okah, has been ignored for months.