In a Friday statement, Niger Delta's militia claimed the administration in Abuja has demanded that MEND admit to having stolen the country's military weapons in exchange for the clemency proposed by the state in its dealings with the group.
“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has been approached by the Nigerian government to own up to thousands of weapons belonging to the Nigerian Army which would be delivered secretly at night to an arms collection centre if we agree to the plan,” the statement read.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua had suggested that MEND fighters lay down their arms in exchange for an amnesty for the group.
The guerrillas, however, have remained wary of the government bid.
In their Friday letter, MEND spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, reaffirmed the militia's static posture and said, “This desperate measure which aims to give the amnesty program some semblance of progress has the input and connivance of the Amnesty Commitee, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Ministry of Defense as well as the Joint Task Force. We know that some unscrupulous individuals will participate in this scam because of the money involved and as such we are using this opportunity to raise the alarm before Nigerians and the international community is hoodwinked.”
“For a government that has perfected the art of rigging elections, this latest fraudulent attempt does not come to us as a surprise,” he went on to say.
Gbomo called for viable strategies in order to settle the anti-government disputes over the natural riches situated in Africa's largest exporter of fossil fuels, noting, “MEND believes in a holistic process where the root issues that prompted the unrest are addressed and weapons are freely given up in exchange for justice.”
The group has been fighting the government since its inception in 2005, vying for a larger share of the country's energy trade revenues.