The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) has asserted confidently that former President Goodluck Jonathan formed the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) in Bayelsa state in 2014 during the build-up to the presidential election.
The group, in a statement issued yesterday, threatened that should Jonathan deny being the NDA sponsor, it would reveal more details of their relationship, Sahara Reporters said.
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The RNDA had, last week, released a 22-member list, made up of top Niger Delta indigenes, which it said were sponsors, members or sympathizers of the Avengers.
Jonathan, alongside Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo; his media consultant, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo; former Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi; Niger Delta activist Annkio Briggs, were all mentioned on the list – an allegation, they all denied.
However, the spokesperson of RNDA, Cynthia Whyte, in a statement, yesterday, said:
“To cut a long story short, NDA was formed to counter Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, but it failed.
“It, therefore, did not come to us as a surprise that the grand patron of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, has distanced himself from the NDA.
“Like every sponsor, sympathizer and operative earlier mentioned, who has equally denied links with the Avengers, we can understand the wisdom behind their decision, as their participation was always meant to be covert.
“After a clandestine meeting in 2014 between the grand patron and several unidentified persons, ahead of the Presidential election campaign of 2015, it was agreed that the Okah brothers should be contacted to reach out to MEND to endorse former President Jonathan and work with the group of persons to ensure victory for the PDP and President Jonathan.
“At the time, because MEND was the suggested tool, the NDA as a body was not yet formed.”
RNDA added that when MEND endorsed the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan became infuriated and called a meeting and then conceived the idea of the Niger Delta Avengers.
The statement continued: “The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, and Mr. Gordon Obuah, the Chief Security Officer to President Jonathan, respectively were selected to visit Charles Okah in Kuje prison.
“Mr. Daniel Alabrah was given the assignment to draft an endorsement statement for Charles Okah to go through and pass on to MEND. According to the account, both men reported back that they had visited Okah in Kuje prison at night with the promise of his release along with others should he cooperate to get MEND to endorse Jonathan.
“It therefore came as a shock when MEND did the opposite and endorsed Buhari. Jonathan was livid with anger and swore that the Okahs would rot in prison.”
He said it was also agreed that a show of force be put up in Yenagoa, where ex-militants led by Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo and Kingsley Kuku would threaten war should the electorate vote in Buhari’s favour.
“It was around that period the idea of forming the Niger Delta Avengers was conceived. In fact, the name ‘Avengers’ came from the lips of Goodluck Jonathan.
“As Election Day approached, certain stakeholders were mobilised to form a force to standby and ensure total anarchy in the South-South and the South-East within 24 hours if the election results were not favourable to Jonathan. It took everyone by surprise to learn that Mr. Jonathan had conceded defeat even before the final results were released. The standby force that was supposed to attack specific targets was told to stand down. They were all compensated in US dollars cash.”
The group also claimed that the Avengers then decided that it would be used as a tool to make things difficult for the Buhari government by vandalising oil facilities and causing economic hardship.