In Nigeria, leaders of militant groups have failed to reach an agreement on ending the violence and kidnappings in the Niger Delta. The groups were apparently unable to reach a consensus on who truly represents the people of the delta. The failure of the talks follows a recent declaration of a ceasefire among the groups.
Reporter Chinedu Offor, who is at an undisclosed location in the Niger Delta, spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about whether this means there’ll be a resumption of violence.
“Bad news. This meeting, according to analysts, was the brightest hope of bringing peace to the area. For the first time in several years, all the groups have reached a seat at the table and discussed this issue. At first, the indication that this might lead to a breakthrough was the ceasefire agreement that was struck by all the parties at least until the peace talks end. But that did not work as several factions disagreed on who are the authentic militant groups representing the people in the area. So, a lot of people are scared this might spark fresh fighting, fresh bombings and fresh killings in the area,” he says.
Offor says while no militant leader actually stated the ceasefire was over, one leader’s comments indicated how much tension exists between some groups. “I spoke with the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force…and he said they were going into the talks without any conditions. They were going there to put their case across. But again…he said that the other groups that were abducting people were just thugs and paid hired killers for some politicians. That angered several of the groups, who also accused his group of selling out. At that point…several of the leaders of the militant groups just got up and walked out of the meeting. Later, their spokespeople said there was nothing to sit down and discuss and effectively the meeting was over,” he says.
The ceasefire was declared three days ago and brought much of the violence to an end. Offor says that there’s no indication the militant leaders are planning to go back to the bargaining table.