PAN-NIGER Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of traditional rulers, elders, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger Delta, has resolved to resist any attempt to make the people slaves in a country that has been built with their resources and sweat.
PANDEF warned that the people of the region will “vehemently resist” any attempt to make use of “federal might” to subvert the will of the Niger Delta people in the 2019 general election.
The group in a communiqué issued at the end of PANDEF/South-South Stakeholders Consultative meeting at Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, said it would resist any act of intimidation and aggression against the governments and the people, but would “support only parties and candidates that align with the call for restructuring of the country.”
It added that the political parties and candidates must sign an irrevocable agreement with the people of the Niger Delta before December 31, 2018.
National Chairman of PANDEF and former military governor of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd.); Deputy National Chairman, Chief Francis Doukpola; and National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade are among the top officials who signed the communiqué.
The communiqué reads: “Governors of the South-South zone not to be distracted by the antics of enemies of the zone as the people are with them. We hereby state the firm resolve of the people of South South region
“PANDEF calls on the public and the International community to hold the Federal Government, Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris and the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Musa Kimo responsible for any breach of peace in Akwa Ibom state, and other states in the South-South Zone.
“Security agencies in the country should refrain from all partisan acts and focus on their primary roles of defending the territorial integrity of the country, and securing the lives and property of all Nigerians.”
The regional body commended the governors of the South-South states for their efforts at “improving the lot of the people despite the harsh economic and political realities.”
PANDEF, however, reaffirmed the commitment of the peoples of the South-South geopolitical zone to the unity, peace, and progress of Nigeria, rested on the principles of fairness, equity, and justice.
The meeting observed with dismay “the recent assault on democracy in Akwa Ibom State and extension in Nigeria, by armed police at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, whereby the police flagrantly and illegally used its powers to truncate the activities of the legislature, and constituting a breach of peace in the state.”
It described as “worrisome the arm-twisting of the Rivers State government by the Nigerian Army by its invasion and disruption of the training session of the Neighborhood Watch trainees, an outfit legally established by the Rivers State House of Assembly, and well-intended to enhance security in the state.
“In spite of the fact that there are similar security outfits in other states such as Zamfara, Kano, Kogi, Osun, etc. that have not been harassed by any Federal Government Security Agency in any shape or form.”
PANDEF “observed with shock the action of the new Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa state by his withdrawal of the police attached to Operation Doo Akpo, a security operation for the coordination and maintenance of security in Bayelsa State, which comprises the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, NSCDC and the Bayelsa Volunteers. The state government has used the operation to sustain peace and security in the state.”
It expressed worries over the “increasing trend of desecrating our national institutions, particularly the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force, in using them for nefarious political ends by highly placed persons in government.”
While decrying the alarming and unnecessary turnover of Police Commissioners in the region with Bayelsa state recording eight commissioners in three months, the group urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently re-jig the nation’s military high command and security architecture of the country.