The umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, has debunked allegations by an ex-militant, Israel Akpodoro, that former President Goodluck Jonathan founded the Niger Delta Avengers, currently behind pipeline and oil installations bombings in the Niger Delta.
Reacting to the allegations, the IYC spokesman, Eric Omare, in a statement on Sunday, said it was spurious to imagine that Jonathan, who conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent even before the final result was announced, would contrive such a plan.
The IYC stated, “The attention of the group has been drawn to a statement by one Israel Akpodoro, who claimed to be the National President of the National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, alleging that former President Jonathan founded the Niger Delta Avengers.
“The initial reaction of the IYC was to ignore the said statement considering the fact that the said Akpodoro is unknown and has no pedigree in the Niger Delta region.
“However, we have consistently been inundated with calls and messages by concerned Nigerians all over the world as to the true position as far as the allegations are concern. This response is to set the record straight for the benefit of the reading public.
“The allegation that the NDA was formed by Jonathan in a meeting he attended in January 2015, preparatory to the 2015 general elections to make the country ungovernable for his successor, is absolutely untrue.
“It is nonsensical to imagine that former President Jonathan, who conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent, current President Muhammadu Buhari, even before the final result was announced, would make such a plan.
“In the first place, the January 2015 meeting of ex-agitators and stakeholders in the region was not attended by Jonathan and the meeting never resolved to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Buhari.
“The IYC leadership also attended the meeting and the President of the IYC, Udengs Eradiri, was one of the speakers at that meeting. The meeting was called to calm down the youths of the Niger Delta, who were aggrieved with the attack on former President Jonathan in some northern states during the campaign for the 2015 presidential election.”
The IYC recalled that when Buhari, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, came to the southern part of the country to campaign, especially the South-South, he was warmly received by his party supporters and traditional rulers he visited.
It said specifically that when Buhari visited Bayelsa State, the home state of Jonathan, the group even took the extra step of providing security to ensure that the campaign was peaceful in order not to embarrass Jonathan and the people of Bayelsa State.
It, however, said that the reverse was the case when Jonathan went to the North to campaign as he was stoned and attacked by hired youths and thugs allegedly sponsored by opposition politicians.
The IYC added, “This situation made youths of the South-South to be aggrieved and it was in that state of affairs that the then Presidential Adviser on the Niger Delta, Kingsley Kuku, in conjunction with the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, took the proactive step to call a stakeholders’ meeting, where the attack on Jonathan in the North was condemned.
“They asked the youth of the South-South to give peace a chance. It was never resolved at that meeting to set up the Niger Delta Avengers and to make Nigeria ungovernable. The initiators of this historic meeting deserve commendation rather than condemnation.”
“For the records, the said Akpodoro was never an ex-agitator; hence he could not have been selected to address such an important gathering of stakeholders in the region. The issue of his being moved out of the meeting because he opposed the idea does not arise as even the media personnel, who were at the meeting, can attest this fact.”
The group alleged that Akpodoro was involved in questionable activities in Delta State, noting that he was only incorporated into the second and third phase of the Amnesty programme to rehabilitate him and take him out of those questionable activities.
The IYC, therefore, called on the general public to ignore the wild and unfounded allegations of Akpodoro against Jonathan as he was only looking for relevance.
“It is now the stock in trade of people from the South-South, who are looking for relevance from the Federal Government, to castigate leaders from the region. We call on such characters in the class of Akpodoro to have a rethink as their antics may not take them far,” the group said.