MEND described the statement as “insensitive, provocative, unprofessional and prejudicial to the fair outcome of the ongoing preliminary talks”.
Buratai had made the declaration on Monday, July 25, while speaking at the inauguration of the newly built ultra-modern 2 brigade headquarters complex and Olympic-sized swimming pool in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state.
The army chief, who was represented by the General Officer commanding, 82 division, Ibrahim Attahiru, had said: “Government is still committed to dialogue and where this cannot go on – then there could be resort to other means.”
“The non-kinetic (force) means has always been the source first before government can recourse to the kinetic means. So, there is need for the Niger Delta Avengers to see reason and dialogue with government.”
In its response on Tuesday, July 26, MEND described the statement as “insensitive, provocative, unprofessional and prejudicial to the fair outcome of the ongoing preliminary talks”.
“The attention of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has been drawn to a statement made in Port Harcourt on Monday July 25, 2016 by the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Buratai to the effect that the Nigerian military authorities will resort to the use of force if dialogue to resolve the current Niger Delta crisis fails,” a statement issued by the group's spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said.
“We therefore warn the Chief of Army Staff to guard his utterances, refrain from making political and inflammatory statements and stick to his primary responsibility.
“We use this opportunity to appeal to the good people of the Niger Delta to remain patient with the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and keep hope alive, as MEND and the Aaron Team 2 Dialogue, Peace and Development Initiative led by Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN and HRH King Alfred Papapreye Diette-Spiff are working assiduously to secure sustainable concessions for the region from the Government.
“While MEND has already kick-started the dialogue process with the ongoing preliminary talks, the Aaron Team, made up of distinguished and accomplished personalities from the region, is waiting on the sidelines to conclude the dialogue process.
“Long live Niger Delta…Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!”
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Avengers, the relatively new militant group responsible for the major attacks on oil installations in the past months has distanced from the ongoing peace talks, calling MEND it is not in any dialogue with the government.