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Eniola Akinkuotu, Ifeanyi Onuba and Ovie Okpare
The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers says former President Goodluck Jonathan formed the Niger Delta Avengers in 2014 during the build-up to the presidential election.
It threatened that should Jonathan deny being the NDA sponsor, it would reveal more details of their relationship.
According to SaharaReporters, the threat was contained in a statement by the spokesperson for the RNDA, Cynthia Whyte.
The group said Jonathan had initially reached out to the leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta asking them to support his re-election.
Attempts to get the reaction of former President Goodluck Jonathan were not successful as calls sent to his Media Adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, did not connect. Similarly, an email sent to him had yet to be responded to as of the time of filing this report (8:06pm).
RNDA disclosed that when MEND endorsed the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan became infuriated and called a meeting and then conceived the idea of the Niger Delta Avengers.
Whyte said following a secret meeting between Jonathan and several unidentified persons ahead of the Presidential election campaign of 2015, it was agreed that the Okah brothers should be contacted to reach out to MEND to endorse Jonathan and to work with the group of persons to ensure victory for the Peoples Democratic Party and Jonathan.
MEND was the suggested tool at the time, the spokesperson said, because the NDA as a body has not been formed.
The statement read in part, “The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, and Mr. Gordon Obuah, the Chief Security Officer to President Jonathan, respectively were selected to visit Charles Okah in Kuje prison.
“Mr. Daniel Alabrah was given the assignment to draft an endorsement statement for Charles Okah to go through and pass on to MEND. According to the account, both men reported back that they had visited Okah in Kuje prison at night with the promise of his release along with others should he cooperate to get MEND to endorse Jonathan.
“It therefore came as a shock when MEND did the opposite and endorsed Buhari. Jonathan was livid with anger and swore that the Okahs would rot in prison.”
He said it was also agreed that a show of force be put up in Yenagoa, where ex-militants led by Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo and Kingsley Kuku would threaten war should the electorate vote in Buhari’s favour.
“It was around that period the idea of forming the Niger Delta Avengers was conceived. In fact, the name ‘Avengers’ came from the lips of Goodluck Jonathan.
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“As Election Day approached, certain stakeholders were mobilised to form a force to standby and ensure total anarchy in the South-South and the South-East within 24 hours if the election results were not favourable to Jonathan. It took everyone by surprise to learn that Mr. Jonathan had conceded defeat even before the final results were released. The standby force that was supposed to attack specific targets was told to stand down. They were all compensated in US dollars cash.”
The group further alleged that the Avengers then decided that it would be used as a tool to make things difficult for the Buhari government by vandalising oil facilities and causing economic hardship.
“MEND was aware of this plot through a spy that could not be identified, and the group began its campaign to counter every effort of the NDA and the Biafran agitators to this day,” the group said.
All those listed by the group, including Tompolo and Kuku, had in separate statements denied membership or involvement in the NDA.
A former Head of Media and Communications of the Presidential Amnesty Office (PAO), Alabrah, also denied allegations linking him, Kuku and others with the formation of the Niger Delta Avengers.
Alabrah, who was reacting to Wythe’s allegations that he purportedly wrote an endorsement letter to Charles Okah to enable MEND to support Jonathan’s re-election, said rather than the militant group casting aspersion on innocent people, it should go ahead and disclose the true identities of those behind Niger Delta Avengers.
He challenged the spokesperson for the splinter NDA to also produce the letter he wrote for Charles Okah to sign for the defunct MEND to support the ambition of the former President.
Alabrah, a former journalist who spoke on the phone with one of our correspondents, also dismissed the alleged prominent role played by his former boss, Kingsley Kuku, in the formation of the group prior to the 2015 presidential election.
“These allegations are very laughable. There was no time I wrote a letter to be endorsed by Charles Okah prior to the 2015 general elections. The way RNDA are going shows that the same people who run MEND are behind the RNDA.
“If Cynthia Whyte claims I wrote any letter, the group should produce a copy of the letter. I have never met Charles Okah, let alone writing an endorsement letter for him in prison. It has gotten to a point where they (RNDA) if they are actually splinter group of Avengers to unravel those behind NDA.
“Security forces should ask the new group who are the members of the Niger Delta Avengers. This blackmailing game against innocent people won’t work. They should name those who are members of the Avengers rather than blackmailing everybody.
“The only meeting I know which Kingsley Kuku attended with ex-militants was the peace meeting held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. The outcome of that meeting was misquoted in the media until Governor Seriake Dickson who chaired the event made clarification to earlier reports.”
Efforts to speak with Paul Benemibo, the spokesperson for the former MEND leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo were unsuccessful.
Repeated calls made to his line rang without answering even at about 9.50pm when this report was being filed.
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