A key community leader from Nigeria’s Delta oil-producing region called on militants not to resume attacks until they had further time to negotiate demands with government.
Chief Edwin Clark, who leads the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), which has been holding peace talks with government since last year, called on the Niger Delta Avengers militant group to “be patient.”
The Avengers, whose attacks last year wrought havoc on oil output, promised a “brutish, brutal and bloody” return to violence because had “lost faith” in local leaders to get what they wanted from government.
“This is not the time to resume hostilities,” Clark said in a statement issued by the Presidential Amnesty Programme. “It is true the federal government has not been quite serious about the negotiations, but we are asking the Niger Delta Avengers to maintain the peace.”
He added PANDEF was sending a delegation to meet the group’s leaders.
The Avengers, like many in the Niger Delta, want a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to stay in the impoverished swampland region, which produces the bulk of the oil but is largely under-developed.
The statement came after a government delegation led by Brigadier General Paul Boroh, special adviser to the president on the Niger Delta, visited Clark at his Abuja home. Clark said Boroh assured him talks were “back on track” and PANDEF leaders would meet soon in Warri.
The 2016 attacks slashed oil output to close to a million barrels per day from roughly 2.2 million bpd. That along with low oil prices pushed the nation into its first recession in 25 years.