Leaders of the Niger Delta, under the auspices of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, have condemned the action of security operatives during their meeting in Port Harcourt.
Operatives of the Nigerian Police Force took over the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, venue for the planned Chief Edwin Clark-led PANDEF, fourth quarter general meeting.
Heavily armed, fierce looking policemen barricaded the entrance to the venue, stopping visitors from accessing the hotel.
Meanwhile, PANDEF in a communique signed by Chief Edwin Clark, the General Assembly, said it noted with concern “the unwarranted disruption of the meeting, including the cordoning-off of Hotel Presidential by an unprecedented deployment of security personnel from the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Police Force.
“Therefore, the meeting was unable to fully discuss other issues, which, consistent with the PANDEF mission, includes amongst others, ‘Fostering peaceful coexistence, inter ethnic harmony and understanding, as well as the use of lawful and nonviolent means for justice and equity for ourselves and our progeny and the struggle for fairness, justice, and, to promote good governance, development and welfare of our people’
“The General Assembly further calls on the federal government to offer an explanation on this show of hostility mounted against the elders and leaders of the region, which PANDEF represents.
“The General Assembly considers the attempts by agencies of the Federal Government to forcefully stop such a high level gathering of leaders of the Niger Delta region as totally unacceptable and a very disturbing precedent in our democratic evolution and flagrant denigration of our constitutional guarantees on the right of peaceful assembly and free movement.
“This is more disturbing when it is known that meetings of this nature by leaders of other geo-political zones such as AREWA Consultative forum, Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo and the likes have never in the history of the country been subjected to such humiliation and show of high-handedness.
“Furthermore, the General Assembly considers the action of the FG as insensitive.”
The meeting had in attendance over 200 delegates comprising of key traditional rulers, leaders of thoughts, the academia, youth groups, women groups, and other critical stakeholders from all the states of the region.