indigenes, which it said were sponsors, members or sympathizers of the Avengers. Prominent names on the list, although all of them have denied the allegation, were former President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo; his media consultant, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo; former Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi; Niger Delta activist Annkio Briggs, among others. Spokesperson of RNDA, Cynthia Whyte, in a statement, yesterday, said: “To cut a long story short, NDA was formed to counter Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, but it failed. “It, therefore, did not come to us as a surprise that the grand patron of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, has distanced himself from the NDA.
“Like every sponsor, sympathizer and operative earlier mentioned, who has equally denied links with the Avengers, we can understand the wisdom behind their decision, as their participation was always meant to be covert. “After a clandestine meeting in 2014 between the grand patron and several unidentified persons, ahead of the Presidential election campaign of 2015, it was agreed that the Okah brothers should be contacted to reach out to MEND to endorse former President Jonathan and work with the group of persons to ensure victory for the PDP and President Jonathan. “At the time, because MEND was the suggested tool, the NDA as a body was not yet formed,” the group alleged. RNDA said the meeting of some select top government officials was convened to visit Charles Okah and they “reported back that they had visited Okah in Kuje prison at night with the promise of his release, along with others should he cooperate to get MEND to endorse Jonathan. “It therefore, came as a shock when MEND did the opposite and endorsed Buhari. Dr. Jonathan was livid with anger and swore that the Okahs would rot in prison.” Cynthia Whyte added that following the failure to get MEND’s endorsement, they agreed that ex-militant leaders should put up a show of force in Yenagoa and “threaten war should the electorate vote in Buhari’s favour.” According to RNDA, NDA was conceived around that time and the name ‘Avengers’ was chosen by one of the leaders. Cynthia White said further: “As election day approached, certain stakeholders were mobilised to form a force to ensure total anarchy in the South-South and South-East within 24 hours if the election results were not favourable to Jonathan. “It took everyone by surprise to learn that Jonathan had conceded defeat, even before the results were released. The standby force, which was to attack specific targets were told to stand down. They were all compensated in US dollars, cash. “The Niger Delta Avengers was born from the failure at the polls and would now be used as an organ to make the Buhari government inactive, bring economic hardship and cause hatred for the administration towards failure at the 2019 general election. “MEND was aware of this plot through a spy that would not be identified, and the group began its campaign to counter every effort of the NDA and the Biafra agitators to this day. “MEND has been a thorn in the flesh because MEND’s successful propaganda has caused the split in our ranks today.” He said if the sponsors and operatives of NDA provoked the group further with denials of this revelation, more sordid details would be revealed. Former President Jonathan could not be reached, last night, as his Media Adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, said the former President was not in the country and could not react. “We’re not in the country at the moment. Therefore, we cannot respond now,” he told Vanguard. It was learned that the former President is currently in Zambia, monitoring the elections there on behalf of the African Union. New militant group blows up NPDC/Shorelines trunk line in Delta Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after it threatened to bomb oil installations in the Niger Delta region, if the Federal Government did not stop its alleged one-sided talks with the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, NDJM, yesterday, blew up a major trunk delivery line in Delta State. The trunk line conveying crude from Isoko to the Eriemu manifold in Urhobo belongs to the National Petroleum Development Company, NPDC and Shoreline Resources. NDJM in a statement by its spokesperson, self-styled ‘General’ Aldo Agbalaja, said the “Central Operational Command of the group had approved the commencement of demolition and evacuation of uplands tagged ‘Operation Zero’ to correct the wrongs that have afflicted our people for years.” The group had, Tuesday, warned the Federal Government to stop parleying with the Ijaw ethnic nationality alone, as it was not the only tribe in the region that its militants could blow pipelines. Vanguard could not confirm the authenticity of the claim from industry sources. The group said: “As a mark of our seriousness and to prove we are people of our words, at 2 hours of Wednesday, our operatives brought down a major trunk delivery line from Isoko to the Eriemu Manifold in Urhobo, belonging to the NPDC/Shoreline Resources. “We would also want to use this medium to give a very strong warning to the operatives of the asset NPDC/Shorelines not to commence repairs pending when they get signals from us, otherwise the inevitable may occur to their personnel, as we have earlier warned them to begin evacuating the uplands. “This is just a glimpse of what is to come. There are several assets already penned down for destruction. This line of action has been made inevitable by an unjust system, which only responds to violence to the detriment of the peaceful and law abiding.”