The Presidential Amnesty Office has described as untrue the claim by the so-called Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that it is responsible for the oil pipeline explosion that occurred in Okrika in Rivers State on Sunday, 18th May, 2014.
The Amnesty Office, in a press release issued in Abuja, said the shadowy group’s claim is an abominable attempt by a band of vandals and criminals to take credit for an unfortunate incident that claimed lives.
It noted that it would not have dignified the group with a response after the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had cleared the air on the incident but for MEND’s reference to the Presidential Amnesty Programme as “a fraud.”
“We suspect that those behind the group are being used once again by agents of destabilization, who do not mean well for the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a country.
“It is a truism that the relative peace enjoyed in the Niger Delta is the result of the diligent implementation of the amnesty programme coupled with the highly commendable efforts of the security agencies, which has ensured the stabilization of security and peace in the region.
“At the time MEND made the claim on Monday, 160 Niger Delta youths were being presented to the media in Lagos prior to their departure to the United States of America and the United Kingdom for university education. The successful delegates had undergone a one-year training programme in Nigeria in partnership with the reputable Kaplan International Colleges of the United States Pathway Programme (USPP). Is that the programme that is a fraud?
“Is it a programme that has ensured the training of no fewer than 19,000 former agitators in the Niger Delta in the last three years that the purported MEND will accuse of enriching just a few individuals in the Niger Delta?
“It is befuddling that a group, which makes a claim to ‘emancipation’ of the Niger Delta, will embark on violent and criminal activities to attract attention to itself at a time our country is battling with insurgency in the North-East. This is condemnable and totally unacceptable to true patriots and well-meaning Nigerians.”
The Amnesty Office maintained that MEND’s agitation under whatever guise is misplaced and does not serve the interest of the Niger Delta people.
“We therefore condemn in strong terms this fresh attempt by some misguided elements to cause panic in the Niger Delta.”