Pa Edwin Clark, an influential leader from South South, has vehemently criticised those drawing parallels between the Niger Delta Amnesty programme and northern banditry. Clark, who is also the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), described such comparisons as not only ignorant but also criminal.
Addressing the media from his residence in Asokoro, Abuja, Clark expressed his concern over the misunderstanding of national affairs by those who equate the legitimate agitators of the Niger Delta region with the violent bandits in the north.
In his statement, Clark referred to a recent editorial and said, “Yerima, like others before him, confuses two distinct security issues— the blatant criminality by northern bandits and the agitation over oil resources in the Niger Delta.”
Clark also pointed out the flawed logic of Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi, who has repeatedly called for amnesty for the bandits, arguing that their violence stems from maltreatment by the Nigerian state. Clark criticised such views for overlooking that many of the bandits are foreigners and misconstruing the concept of amnesty as a blanket sanction that could potentially reward mass murderers.
Clark stressed that the Niger Delta Amnesty programme was successful because it was based on the legitimate economic and federalist principle of resource control, given the alienation of local people from their land’s oil wealth and environmental degradation. In contrast, he pointed out that the northern bandits have no valid political or economic claim obliging Nigeria to consider them.
Clark highlighted the grim reality of the 2023 Global Terrorism Index, which ranks Nigeria as the eighth most terrorised country globally, largely due to the actions of these bandits, Boko Haram/ISWAP/Ansaru, killer Fulani herdsmen, and IPOB. According to the National Security Tracker, these groups have collectively killed 63,111 Nigerians from 2015 to May 2023.
Clark praised the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) and other reasonable northern Nigerians for rejecting Ahmed Yerima’s advice to President Bola Tinubu to grant amnesty to terrorists