A former militant group of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, MEND confirmed on Sunday that they have been in talks with the federal government on ending the menace the new militants called the Niger Delta Avengers have consistently organized in the oil-rich region.
“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to confirm that indeed it has been in preliminary talks with the Federal Government through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies,” the group’s spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo said in a statement.
“These preliminary talks are the precursor to a wider dialogue between the Federal Government and the MEND Aaron 2 peace initiative, which will seek to find solutions to the short, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta region.”
This statement follows a previous statement by President Buhari in which he stated that the federal government was making use of oil companies as well as security forces to find a way to end the insecurity in the region.
Following the president’s statement on Thursday, the Niger Delta Avengers claimed to not be aware of any talks with the federal government.
The MEND likewise claimed that the Niger Delta Avengers were not involved in the negotiation.
“The Federal Government made it clear during our meetings that a negotiation with criminals is out of the question,” MEND said. “The Niger Delta Avengers…fall under this category.”
MEND and the Niger Delta Avengers are both from the oil-rich Niger Delta region in Nigeria. The former however signed an amnesty deal in 2009 during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, that provided them with money, as well as job training.
Like the former militants, the Avengers are seeking a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to be transferred to the impoverished region which is marred by environmental problems as a result of oil companies.