Militant groups declare truce in Niger Delta

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Four militant groups in the Niger Delta region: the Coalition of Niger Delta Militant Groups yesterday expressed readiness to dialogue with the Federal Government for peace to return to the oil-rich region. The group took the decision at the end of a meeting attended by the leader of Niger Delta Watchdogs, General John Duku, leader of Niger Delta Volunteers, General Ekpo Ekpo, Leader of Niger Delta Peoples Fighters, Commander Henry Okon Etete and Commander Asukwo Henshaw, spokesperson for Bakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF). According to the statement released by the group, which reads in part: “No country, region or organisation achieves peace through hostility. Peace is always realised through dialogue.”   The group stated that they had no personal grudges against President Muhammadu Buhari and his government, hence promised to work together with the President to make Nigeria a better place. They also expressed the belief that their embrace of move would facilitate the healing of the country’s ailing economy. The militants hailed the President for calling for Niger Delta militants to dialogue with the Federal Government during a visit to the Christian Association of Nigeria on the Christmas Day in Abuja. Meanwhile, many interest groups, stakeholders and economists have expressed optimism over the move by the president and the willingness by the agitators to embrace peace. Speaking with The Guardian, an elder statesman in the region, Sylvester Iheme expressed happiness, saying though the step taken was coming late, considering that severe damage had been done to the economy and the environment. Iheme however, urged the both parties to ensure total sincerity, honesty on their promises, expressing hope that the move would speedily turn the pathetic situations of Nigerians around. An economist, Mr. Fred Akpan, said the move would restore confidence of investors in the region and thereby creating job opportunities, as well boost the economy. An environmentalist, Mrs. Ihenachor Franka expressed regrets that the activities of the militants and other groups had caused serious damage to the environment, citing the recent cases where black carbon emissions were experienced in virtually all homes, offices in Rivers State. Ihenachor told The Guardian that the dialogue between both parties would bring sanity to the environment.
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