- Miyetti Allah dissociates group from threat letter to Governor
- MEND threatens to launch three rocket launchers, ballistic missiles
There are emerging indicators of tension in Nigeria’s the seat of power, Abuja, as several militant groups in the Niger Delta, since the letter by Fulani Jihadists to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, threatening attacks if, after 72 hours, the governor does not withdraw his support for ban on open grazing in the south, begun the recall of their members and other warlords in the zone on Sunday. The groups unequivocally declared total showdown with the Fulani Jihadists, including ‘grounding’ the country’s major source of revenue, should they carry out their threat of attack on any part of Delta State.
A letter was detected to be pasted at certain locations in Asaba, Delta State capital, on Sunday, written by a group – Fulani Jihadists – issuing Governor Ifeanyi Okowa 72 hours ultimatum to withdraw his support for the ban on open grazing in the Southern part of Nigeria, or the group would attack the capital city of Asaba and Agbor.
A renowned militant group with capacity for mass destruction which has been silent over the years, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), resurfaced on Sunday, declaring total war if any part of Delta State is attacked or facility destroyed. The group issued a counter threat of total showdown with the Fulani Jihadists in the event of attack on any part of Delta State. MEND further warned that the war, this time, would not only be fought within the Delta territory but would be pushed to the north, using rocket launchers and ballistic missiles.
MEND, accordingly, in a statement on Sunday identified as “Dragon War” but titled: “Response to the Fulani threat to Okowa on open grazing ban by the Southern Governors”, declared: “It has been brought to our notice the threat of some Fulani terrorists who have given a three-day warning to the Governor of Delta State because of his support for the ban of open grazing across the Southern State.
“We also saw you taking responsibility for an explosion at the Secretariat in Asaba.
“We are warning that if your threat is made to come to fulfilment, no Fulani will ever exist across the Niger Delta; and all oil facilities linked to a Fulani will be brought down.
“If one soul is lost, ten Fulani souls will pay for it. If one facility is destroyed, Ten Fulani facilities will be destroyed. We will respond proportionately ten times whatever you give.
“The corresponding response will not be limited to the Delta, it may be with your politicians or with your rulers.
“We will launch three rocket launchers and ballistic missiles at any facility of our choice as a warning in seven days if you make bold your threats.
“We don’t make cheap our threats. We have shut down the country and we can at any time shut you down.
“We are the Niger Delta; we stand for the interest of the Niger Delta, and we will not allow any coward to threaten us. We fight without running.”
The Niger Delta is the only zone in Nigeria where the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is enjoying relative peace at the moment. While the southeast is boiling with secession uprising, and the southwest being thrown into pandemonium for the same purpose, the south-south has been relatively calm and has been giving the government less burden of insecurity . This was said to be of great concern to President Buhari because the extension of violence in the Niger Delta will turn Nigeria to a complete burning circle that may consume the country.
The threat letter on Sunday had in the past hours steered the troubled waters of violence with counter-threats. Some stakeholders in the zone have also expressed concerns that the President has maintained pacific silence since the threat letter went viral on Sunday, culminating in the people and zonal leaders mobilizing for self-defence.
Sources from the creeks also revealed that the Niger Delta Avengers (NDAs) and other militant groups have deliberately restrained from making any public statement but have been on red alert, regrouping and re-arming for showdown with any external aggressor in Delta State.
The Presidency was gathered to be perturbed about the emerging threats of violence in the Niger Delta at a time the federal government is still working on the negotiation and agreement with Niger Delta leaders and groups over the 7-day ultimatum issued by Tompolo for the inauguration of the NDDC board. More so, when the federal government has high expectations of generating more revenue as the price of crude oil rises in the international market.
Also, the Urhobo Youth Leaders Association (UYLA), followed up actions, issuing 48-hour quit notice to all Fulani to immediately stop open grazing and take their herds of cattle out of the Delta Central Senatorial District.
The UYLA Acting President, Chief Anthony Ofoni, in a statement after an emergency Executive Committee meeting at Otor- Udu, Udu Local Government Area, mandated Urhobo youths in the 24 kingdoms and other ethnic youth groups in Delta State to mobilise into the farmlands after the expiration of the ultimatum and evict the Fulani herdsmen.
The UYLA Acting President, Chief Anthony Ofoni, had declared: “This is to inform the Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership that after 48 hours, open grazing of cattle by nomadic people will be forbidden in Delta Central Senatorial District.
“The safety of herdsmen and their cattle still in the region after the expiration of the notice will no longer be guaranteed because they have sacked some of our communities in Uwheru and killed many Abraka farmers and we viewed the threat as a big insult to all Deltans.”
While President Buhari remained silent on the violent threats, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has dissociated that group from the threat letter to the Delta State Governor.
Miyetti Allah National Secretary, Othman Ngelzarma, in a media interaction on Sunday monitored by National Daily from Lagos, emphasized that the threat letter emanated from ‘Mischief makers’ who plot to dent the image of the Fulani nation. He said the statement should not be given serious consideration.
Othman Ngelzarma had stated: “Such statement that comes from faceless unknown groups should not be given any serious consideration. I believe this statement must be coming from mischief makers, people who are out to tarnish the image of the Fulanis.
“It is because of such negative profiling by the media that makes us believe that the anti-open grazing laws being intended to be promulgated by the Southern states are not laws stopping open grazing, they are laws against Fulanis living in the southern part of the country.
“The Northern governors must be up and doing and also begin to open discussions with their southern counterparts for them to put their heads together and come up with a solution”.
The Hausa/Fulani community in Delta State also exonerated themselves from the threat letter. The northern community held a press conference in Asaba to make public declaration and condemnation of the threat letter, telling Delta people they do not have a hand in the statement. The northern community further demanded the federal government to investigate the thrust letter.