THE General Assembly of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, billed to hold at the Atlantic Hall of Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, yesterday, was aborted by heavily armed security operatives. The meeting, among other things, was to review the constitution of the body and elect officers.
As early as 9am, security men decked in black attire, apparently from the state Police Command and the Department of State Service, DSS, took over Birabi Street, the road leading to the main gate of Hotel Presidential, turning back vehicles on the street. Three patrol vehicles were used to block the road. When Vanguard correspondent approached some of the stern looking security operatives to be allowed into the hotel premises, they politely told him that they were there to ensure the meeting of PANDEF did not hold. “If you are going to visit a guest at the hotel take the back gate. But for PANDEF meeting, it is not holding. Kindly go back,” one of them said.
Vanguard gathered later that some members of the group reassembled at the room of a leader of the body to review its constitution. But some top members, who were not at the meeting in the room, said they were not sure that gathering could be called a General Assembly of PANDEF that was to have held at Hotel Presidential.
A top security source in the state who spoke to Vanguard on grounds of anonymity, said they had to seal off the venue of the meeting to avert any crisis in the region, adding that the body was enmeshed in crisis. The top security source said its men were aware of a gathering of a handful of PANDEF members in a room in the hotel, but they did not storm the place because it was not the General Assembly of PANDEF. “They were probably meeting to review the failure of the meeting,” the source added.
Asuni condemns abortion of meeting
Dr Judy Asuni, otherwise called Mama Niger Delta, condemned the action of the security operatives, saying it was improper for the body to seal off the meeting venue. “They are having a meeting in Chief E.K Clark’s room. I am in Abuja right now. They are discussing the constitution. I don’t see what is threatening about PANDEF holding a meeting to approve its constitution,” she said.
Ledum Mitee resigns as secretary
Meantime, Secretary of the body, Mr Ledum Mitee, at the eve of the General Assembly of PANDEF, resigned his position, saying his acion was based purely on personal and ideological grounds.
Mitee, a front-line environmentalist and former president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, told Vanguard that he got to the venue of the meeting, yesterday, but had to leave when he saw that the place had been sealed off by security operatives.
His words: ‘’I resigned out of principle. I just felt I should leave. I was at the meeting today (yesterday). I saw the place was barricaded and I went back. I don’t know much of what happened after I left. Yesterday (Wednesday), I told them I needed to leave as secretary of the body. I felt I could no longer continue. I felt I can no longer function and I left. I am a person who does things on principles. We hold the hopes and aspirations of several people unborn. So we have to be very careful.”
Obong Attah absent
Vanguard gathered that former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, who is a co-chairman of PANDEF, was absent at the national executive council meeting on Wednesday, preceding yesterday’s gathering. It could not be confirmed why he stayed away at press time, yesterday.
Professor Lucky Akaruese laments actions of security operatives Professor Lucky Akaruese, a prominent member of the body, flayed the action of security operatives. He said he got there yesterday and saw that the venue was under siege by security operatives.
Chief E.K Clark declined comment
When Vanguard called Chief Edwin Clark for comments on the development in the morning, an aide who picked his phone said he would call back. But at press time he was yet to do so.
PNPC dismisses Clark’s PANDEF as opportunistic group
National Leader , Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress, His Royal Majesty, Pere Charles Ayemi Botu, Paramount ruler, Siembiri Kingidon who spoke to Vanguard, said people of the region had rejected PANDEF, led by Chief E.K Clark. He said Chief Clark was using the platform to allegedly launder his image after the collapse of the last administration where he was foster father to former President Goodluck Jonathan, adding that the same militant youths who confered legitimacy on PANDEF withdrew it and warned that the meeting should not hold else they would resume hostilities in the region.
“The youths have asked PANDEF leadership to step aside yet they are grand standing. The leader of the group, Chief E.K. Clark, wants to use the body to launder his image after the Jonathan era. He should quietly go to Kiagbodo, his country home, to rest in retirement and offer advice. The boys had threatened to resume hostilities in the region if the meeting held yesterday because they don’t have confidence in the E.K Clark-led PANDEF leading the region.
“The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers , RNDA and other agitators made it clear that they have lost confidence in the E.K Clark-led PANDEF. “It is shocking that PANDEF went round soliciting for support from states.I am the leader of the newly formed Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress, PNDC, with support from all genuine Niger Deltans. We are going to ensure that the region grows into another Dubai. It will be developed because we will not compromise on development. We are not here to lauder our image but to pursue development for the region . We are going to ask the President to call for an industrial summit on the Niger Delta region. We are going to work for 24-hour electricity supply in the region. We will not compromise the aspirations and demands of the region. We will pursue development in the region that will be all embracing. The development of the region is foremost to us. It is a body made up of traditional rulers, clergies, and all genuine leaders of the region, “ he said.
We had our meeting – President youth wing of PANDEF,
Mr. Famous Daunemigha Mr Famous Daunemigha , President, Youth Wing of PANDEF, said the meeting of the body held despite efforts by security operatives to abort it.
His words: “We just ended the meeting. They tried to frustrate us, but we later went in and had a meeting. We don’t know who wants to frustrate us. It is just that the security apparatus said some militants were threatening. I have told the military personnel that as far as I am concerned, those who made the statement threatening PANDEF are laptop militants. The RNDA is a laptop group and we don’t know them, we don’t recognise any of the members. We had our meeting and we had resolutions.
We are a strong platform and if some people are trying to misbehave, we will not join issues with them. As I speak with you now, we are having our lunch after the meeting. Journalists were not there because they (security operatives) stopped you people from entering.”
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/security-operatives-abort-pandef-meeting-port-harcourt/