Former President Goodluck Jonathan has raised the alarm that his life is under threat. Jonathan said a list, which named him and other South-South leaders as Niger Delta Avengers sponsors, was another attempt by a group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, to eliminate him.
A group, which split from the NDA – Reformed Niger Delta Avengers – had named Jonathan as the grand patron of the NDA.
An online medium, SaharaReporters, reported that in a statement by its spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte, the RNDA also listed the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, as sponsors of the NDA.
Others mentioned in the list were Chief Edwin Clark, a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio; ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo); the founder, African Independent Television, Raymond Dokpesi; Kingsley Kuku; Kimi Angozi, and Patrick Akpobolokemi.
According to SaharaReporters, the group said the NDA sympathisers are Daniel Alabrah; Tony Uranta, Daniel; Ms. Annkio Briggs, and a former spokesman for the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh.
The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers also named Oyege Nimi Brown, VIP Timothy, Joshua Macaiver, Paul Bebenimibo, among others, as the main operatives of the NDA.
It added that the President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Udengs Eradiri, aka Brig. Gen. Murdoch Agbinibo, served as the NDA’s chief spokesman.
But Jonathan, in a statement on Sunday by his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, said the list by the splinter group was political, adding that it was part of an attempt to assassinate him.
The statement read in part, “Since it is not in our place to speak for all those named in the obvious fabrication, we are only intervening to the extent that its hidden intent poses a violent threat to the life of former President Goodluck Jonathan, a committed patriot.
“We are seized by the feeling of déjà vu occasioned by the resurrection of one dim character masquerading as Cynthia Whyte, who had in the past served as the spokesperson for a notorious group that had all along shown its hand to be going after the life of former President Jonathan.”
The former President recalled that in 2007, after he emerged as the running mate of the late President Umar Yar’Adua, the group invaded Yenogoa in an effort to assassinate him.
He added that the members of the group later bombed his compound in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, on a night he was scheduled to attend to an important matter in his country home.
He said, “Do we need to remind anybody that the so-called Cynthia Whyte is the self-declared spokesperson for the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, a violent and murderous underground group led by one Henry Okah, which has not hidden its intention to destroy the former President?”
According to him, the bombing that took place on October 1, 2010 at the Eagle Square, Abuja, showed that the group was violent.
He stated, “We have no doubt in our mind that MEND, as a group contracted to go after Jonathan with the mind of assassinating him, has yet to abandon this criminal and ignominious craving. It is in this light that we view the purported statement issued by Cynthia Whyte as not only a sadistic continuation of this sick desire, but also a futile attempt to instigate the Federal Government to needlessly go after the former President.
“Those who have been following the unsavoury developments in some parts of the country since the last general election would have noticed that MEND, its paymasters and other unscrupulous elements in the South-South region have been striving fruitlessly to exploit the ensuing confusion by surreptitiously working for the fulfilment of its yet-to-be declared political agenda.
“We are not under any illusion that more accusations and allegations of this nature would not be hurled Jonathan’s way in the future. But we are very positive that he can never be fazed by such negative energy.”
Also, Clark, who spoke through his lawyer, Mr. Dotun Sowemimo, wondered why he would be mentioned as one of the sponsors of such a heinous crime against the nation.
He said, “The allegation is an attempt to undermine the efforts of the Niger Delta leaders to bring true, lasting peace to the region.
“Clark and other leaders in the region believe in the unity of Nigeria. The list is a cheap lie, which is meant to distract the peace moves by the elders and leaders in the Niger Delta.”
On his part, Wike, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Mr. Simeon Nwakaudu, said the list should be ignored by the members of the public.
Dokpesi, also distanced himself from the Niger Delta Avengers.
Dokpesi in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday in Abuja, said he remained committed to strengthening the unity and stability of Nigeria.
He said, “I don’t know who is giving that report; I have never met any member of the NDA in my life, I have no association with them and I don’t know who they are. I have been committed to strengthening the unity and stability of the country.”
Also denying the allegation, Metuh said he had nothing to do with the NDA.
He said, “Ordinarily, I would not have responded to this, but on this occasion, I have chosen to respond, as this particularly borders on matters affecting national security.
“This is a wicked, cruel and devilish plot to link me with such activities, especially as the claim is outright false.’’
A former spokesman for the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, also denied being a sympathiser of the NDA.
Alabrah said in a statement on Sunday that the report was a product of mischief designed to distract the Federal Government from decisively addressing the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, denied being a sponsor of the Niger Delta Avengers or any other militant group.
In a statement on Sunday by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Anietie Ekong, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State described the allegation as “baseless, reckless and senseless.”
The statement read in part, “Senator Akpabio has no link with the Niger Delta Avengers or any other militant group for that matter.’’
Also, a former Adviser to President Jonathan, on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, denied reports linking him with the Avengers.