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It’s ‘criminal’ to compare Northern terrorists with Niger Delta agitators — Clark

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Niger Delta activist Edwin Clark has criticised comparison of murderous Northern terrorists with agitators for resource control in the South South, saying the two are poles apart and there is no justification to extend the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme to Northern jihadists whose aim is to degrade and Islamise the country.

Clark, Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), said it is criminal to compare “legitimate agitators” for resource control in the South South with “blood sucking bandits” in the North.

“My first reaction to those who compare the murderous blood sucking bandits from the Northern part of the country with the legitimate agitators from the Niger Delta is that of pity at their ignorance on national affairs and myopicism,” Clark declared at his residence in Asokoro, Abuja.

“At this juncture, with the kind permission of a newspaper’s recent editorial, where it says: ‘Like others before him, Yerima is confusing two contemporary security issues – blatant criminality by the bandits in the North, and agitation over oil resources in Niger Delta.’

“Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric, has repeatedly pleaded for amnesty for the bandits. He constantly defies logic by claiming that the bandits kill because of their ‘maltreatment’ by the Nigerian state.

“The amnesty advocates ignore the fact that many of the bandits are not even Nigerians. They also mistake amnesty for a blanket idea, to be politicised or invoked to reward mass murderers. It is not.

“Amnesty worked in the Niger Delta primarily because its militants anchored their fight on the sound economic and federalist principle of resource control. With their people alienated from the oil wealth extracted from their land, and the environmental despoilation in the region, the agitators had legitimate demands.

“But the blood-thirsty bandits ravaging the North have no legitimate, political, or economic claim that Nigeria is obliged to countenance.

“Because of the bandits, killer Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram/ISWAP/Ansaru and IPOB, the 2023 Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria as the eighth most terrorised country in the world.

“Together, these terrorist groups slaughtered 63,111 Nigerians between 2015 and May 2023, the National Security Tracker estimated. Therefore, any deal with them translates to rewarding mindless criminality.

Futility of negotiating with terrorists

“As some North West states discovered, negotiating with amorphous groups of bandits with no central command or leadership has no positive outcome,” Clark added, as reported by Vanguard.

“I must commend the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) for their forthrightness in condemning the advice of Ahmed Yerima to President Bola Tinubu in which he said the President should grant amnesty to the murderous bandits.

“I also commend some very prominent and reasoning Northern Nigerians who also condemned the advice of Ahmed Yerima to Mr. President.

“On the other hand, I deeply regret the unfortunate statement credited to our newly appointed, most respected Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja on his statement as published in the media.

“Where he said ‘I think we need to look at this issue of amnesty programme. The agreement had proven to be incorrigible and so, amnesty has created an avenue for them to re-organise and launch attacks on defenceless citizens.

‘“So, I think we need to look at that. We also have the issue of the amnesty programme that has been instituted, and which has failed not only in the North, but also in many other states.”’

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