The militant group, New Delta Avengers, says it is not negotiating with the Delta State government directly or through groups purporting to represent it.
Spokesperson for the group, Col. Olleum Bellum, told newsmen that its High Command’s decision to call off Friday’s resumption of hostilities was borne out of respect for Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and not because of a peace deal with the government
The group said it is prepared for a protracted fight, if necessary, saying: “We are ready for as long as it takes; we have materials, equipment and men. We will dig in until the issues we raised are addressed.”
Bellum said that only proper funding of a development agency, DESOPADEC, and meaningful projects in the oil producing areas would bring peace with the present administration in the state.
“Our demands are unambiguous. What we ask is the same level of development (in the oil producing communities) as we are now seeing in the north. Did Governor Okowa come to execute a sectional agenda?
“Now, to your question on whether the ceasefire is permanent, there is nothing in life that is permanent. The ceasefire is not; only our issues are.”
The militant group’s spokespersons reiterated the group’s position that the oil-bearing areas are being underdeveloped in favour of the governor’s section of the state.
Asked on report that it was not disarming despite the ceasefire, he said, “Ultimately, our plan is to ensure that all oil royalties must go directly to producing communities.
“This idea of the baboon working and monkeys in Asaba and everywhere chopping must stop. Do we expect this to happen overnight? No, we don’t that is why we are poised for a long and lengthy fight to achieve this.
“We are aware that some persons are pacing left and right and claiming that they are representing the New Delta Avengers. They are doing this to extort money and patronages for themselves.
“We were very clear in our open letter to Niger Delta leader, Chief Edwin Clark, that our respect for him made us (to) change our mind on the planned attacks.
“Now what we expect is for those who have called for peace to follow up our offer of peace and do the right thing. We do not trust the state government to do the right thing, but we cannot disobey our fathers.”
Chief Clark, who chairs the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, a negotiating team between the Niger Delta and federal government, had appealed to the New Avengers to shelve plan to commence its ‘Operation Cripple Delta Oil’, which would have commenced on Friday, June 30.