Timipa Okponipere, a human rights activist and lawyer, has asked the public to disregard the antics of the “cowardly hierarchy” of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Okponipere said this in response to the claim of MEND that it had withdrawn from the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), a coalition of elders and leaders of the region.
While announcing the withdrawal of his organisation on Wednesday, Jomo Gbomo, spokesman of MEND, accused the leaders of the PANDEF of being insincere.
But reacting, Okponipere said the group is not represented by anyone in PANDEF.
He said there is no part of the proposed PANDEF constitution that recognises any militant group “either for membership or any form of affiliation with PANDEF”.
“It is, therefore, a fallacy of hasty generalisation and a misplaced sense of importance for MEND to lay claim to any scintilla of representation in PANDEF,” he said in a statement.
“I believe that any past references to MEND being represented in PANDEF are misrepresentations which must be discountenanced.
“PANDEF is a serious minded institution. It is the flagship body of elders, notable traditional rulers, eminent professionals, past and present political office holders, women and youths of the six coastal states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states in the Niger Delta region who have been mobilized under the able and indefatigable leadership of its national leader/convener, Chief (Dr.) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, OFR, CON; to work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders in the region, including the federal government to find sustainable solutions to the festering Niger Delta crisis.”
Okponipere, who is a member of the governing council, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, said he fully agrees with the three-month ultimatum which the forum gave to the federal government.
He also urged the presidency, the leadership of PANDEF as well as the general public to disregard MEND.
“As of 1973/74 when our national leader/convener, Chief (Dr.) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, OFR, CON was serving as federal commissioner for information; I am very certain that several of the faceless elements in MEND were either not born or were in diapers,” he added.
“I am a firm believer, like every other African, in the biblical doctrine of Primogeniture. Youths must learn to respect their elders.”