By Onome Oghenetega
The defunct Movement for the Emancipation for the Niger Delta (MEND) on Friday condemned the attack by unknown gunmen on the Otuoke residence of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The group said violence was no longer fashionable means for drumming for a better deal for the underdeveloped of the Niger Delta region.
MEND stated this when its delegation, according to a release by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, visited the former Nigerian President at his Yenagoa home, Bayelsa State capital, on Friday.
Gbomo, in the statement, said the visit was to condone with the Jonathan’s family over the attack where a soldier was killed while repelling the gunmen on Tuesday December 24, 2019.
It said MEND remains committed to its unconditional ceasefire it declared on May 30, 2015 for the returning of peace in the once troubled region.
“Following the December 24, 2019 dawn attack on the Otuoke, Bayelsa State residence of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by unknown gunmen, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) condemned the attack and paid a Solidarity Visit to the former President at his residence in Yenagoa on Friday, January 10, 2020.
“At the Solidarity Visit, MEND sympathized with the former President and his family while emphasizing the futility of violence and terror as means of enthroning a better deal for the Niger Delta region, except as a last resort, and gave assurances that its unilateral ceasefire of May 30, 2015 still stands”, the statement added.
The statement said MEND’s emissaries at the visit called on the President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate dialogue that will ensure the release of its former leader and his brother, Henry and Charles Okah from detentions.
According to its, “MEND reiterated the group’s irrevocable commitment to peace. Accordingly, MEND called on the Federal Government to initiate dialogue towards the release of the Okah brothers, Henry and Charles, as well as other individuals currently in prison and detention centres Nationwide.
“Furthermore, MEND used the opportunity afforded by the Solidarity Visit to pledge to work together with former President Jonathan towards bringing sustainable peace and development to the Niger Delta.”
Former President Jonathan, according to the statement while responding, thanked the group for respecting the ceasefire it declared in 2015.
Jonathan, who decried continued use of violence as a tool negotiation, called for the use of dialogue and roundtable discussion for the resolution of crisis.
He was quoted to have commended the group for peace in the region, pledged to work MEND and other stakeholders in the region for the development of the area.
“He decried violence as a tool for negotiation and emphasized the paramount place of dialogue as key to cross cultural understanding and global peace and security”, the statement said.
Highlights of the MEND Solidarity Visit was the presentation of a souvenir to former President Jonathan by one of the MEND Emissaries.
Meanwhile, former President is yet to confirm the visit at the time of filing this report.