The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has reacted to the denial of former minister of state for petroleum resources, Odein Ajumogobia.
Odein Ajumogobia had been alleged to have begged to negotiate with the Federal Government on behalf of MEND.
MEND had been a major force in the prevalence of militant activities and vandalism in the Niger Delta from 2005-2007 and has returned to lead negotiations with the Federal Government following the decision to embrace dialogue with the newly emerged Niger Delta Avengers.
Ajumogobia had denied being on the negotiating team in a statement released on Wednesday while maintaining that he could not represent a group he did not know.
MEND however, is having none of that and has released a statement signed by Tinipa Jenkins Okponipere.
See the statement below.
1. The attention of the AARON TEAM 2 Secretariat has been drawn to a statement issued by Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia, SAN purporting to dissociate himself from the Aaron Team initiative of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Days earlier, Mr. Ajumogobia’s nominee on the Team, Bismark Jemide Rewane had also dissociated himself from the Team. We respect and welcome their decision to quit.
2. However, by virtue of his public claim to sainthood as contained in his statement, Mr. Ajumogobia has put his conduct and character in issue. Hence this rejoinder.
3. Following the Federal Government’s call on aggrieved militant groups in the Niger Delta to dialogue, about 2 weeks ago; MEND heeded the call and had initially penciled down either Mr. Ajumogobia or Mr. Atedo Peterside for the position of Leader of AARON TEAM 2. However, Mr. Ajumogobia was fortunate to have been the first, amongst the two gentlemen, to be approached for the role.
4. When he was told that Mr. Peterside was also being considered for the same post, Mr. Ajumogobia made it clear that Atedo Peterside was his bitter rival in an ongoing litigation and practically swore with his life that he was more qualified and suitable for the post than Peterside and would do nothing to disappoint the group if he was eventually picked. He practically begged to be appointed and was so excited at the prospect that, even before the appointment was made public on June 13, 2016 he had spread the news to his close friends and associates in Lagos. That was how Mr. Timi Alaibe, former Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta got to hear about it and promptly contacted the MEND emissary to confirm the authenticity of Mr. Ajumogobia’s claim. Mr. Alaibe is alive and well. He can be contacted for verification.
5. Based on Mr. Ajumogobia’s embarrassing desperation to be appointed to the role and the subsequent firm assurances he gave to MEND to be of good conduct, MEND settled for him.
6. Having secured the job, Mr. Ajumogobia asked MEND to bring Messrs. Ledum Mitee, Bismark Rewane and Tony Elumelu on board. He also expressed a preference to work with Senator Florence Ita-Giwa instead of Nella Lawal-Rabana, SAN a former Attorney General of Cross River state whom the group had nominated to represent that state. Thereafter, Mr. Ajumogobia provided the telephone contacts of Mitee, Rewane, Elumelu and Ita-Giwa. MEND promptly contacted all 4 persons.
7. Mr. Tony Elumelu politely declined to serve. But Mitee, Rewane and Ita-Giwa accepted to join AARON TEAM 2. When they came on board, Senator Ita-Giwa recommended former Senate President Adolphus Wabara from Abia state to join the Team while Mr. Rewane insisted that his friend, Dr. Vincent Idemyor from the same Ogoni, Rivers state as Ledum Mitee, must also join the Team; otherwise he (Rewane) would pull out.
8. On Monday June 13, 2016 when the AARON TEAM 2 list was made public and Dr. Idemyor’s name was missing, the impulsive Rewane, took to his twitter handle to announce his withdrawal from the AARON TEAM. Let him go!
9. With all due respect, Mr. Ajumogobia has never been known on record to stand for any cause. He ought to be reminded that he probably wouldn’t have attained the position of Minister of the Federal Republic if men like Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, Harold Dappa-Biriye, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Henry and Charles Okah, among others, did not die or suffer imprisonment.
10. Indeed, without the purposeful and consistent agitation of MEND back in 2006/2007, Nigeria’s ruling political class might not have considered Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for the vice presidency and presidency of Nigeria. MEND’S AARON TEAM 1 which was inaugurated sometime in 2009, was comprised of eminent patriots such as Prof. Wole Soyinka, late Admiral Mike Akhigbe. Mr. Ajumogobia is by no means more accomplished or famous than Africa’s first Nobel laureate in Literature who did not need to know MEND or any of its fighters and commanders, to come on board.
11. But the real reasons why Mr. Ajumogobia and his sidekick Rewane chose to embarass MEND, President Muhammadu Buhari and the good people of Nigeria has everything to do with politics. The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), is the vehicle currently being used by Niger Delta political elite and associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan to destabilize President Buhari’s Government. It was these political juggernauts who are loathe to see President Buhari gain a foothold in the region, who approached Mr. Ajumogobia and several of us to leave the AARON TEAM 2.
12. We of the AARON TEAM 2 hereby assure the Federal Government, all Nigerians and the international community that AARON TEAM 2 is on course and we are determined to help President Buhari’s Government to bring peace to the troubled Niger Delta.