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GOVERNORS, elders, leaders and stakeholders of the Niger-Delta, yesterday, angrily scolded the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, for detonating two bombs some 200 metres away from the Government House Annex, Warri, Delta State, venue of a two-day post amnesty dialogue by Vanguard Newspapers.
The event had just started with a welcome address by the chairman of the occasion, a former Chief of Defence Staff, General Andrew Owei Azazi (rtd) and the Chairman/Publisher of Vanguard Media Limited, Mr. Sam Amuka was explaining the reason for the Vanguard initiative when the first bomb was detonated.
The second bomb, reportedly planted inside a car across the road on Effurun-Nigeria Ports Authority Expressway near the Government House, Warri exploded 30 minutes later, forcing the stakeholders to leave the hall.
MEND claimed responsibility for the explosions and in fact sent out electronic mail statements before they were detonated.
However, South-South leader and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, first civilian Governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, presidential candidate of the Africa Democratic Congress in the 2007 elections, Prof Pat Utomi, Second Republic Senator, Francis Okpozo, former Senate Chief Whip, Senator Roland Owie, member of the Niger-Delta Technical Committee, Mr. Tony Uranta, Niger-Delta activist, Ann-Kio Briggs, Barrister Mike Igini, Mike Emakpore, members of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Efe Afe, Talib Tebite and Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Hon Raymos Guanah spoke on the blasts.
It's shocking - Clark
Chief Clark who was unavoidably absent but watching the event live on television in Abuja said, "I was invited to the post-amnesty dialogue in Warri today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today) but because I have some other things I am doing in Abuja, I could not attend but I was watching the event live when the programme went off and I started calling to find out what happened."
He added: "It's shocking. This is the first time a very serious conference on the post-amnesty programme is being organized to proffer solutions on the way forward and it should be supported."
The elder statesman said at the time of speaking to Vanguard, he was yet to get information on who carried out the bomb attack and why, stressing that the government should probe the incident to prevent its re-enactment in future.
It's insulting - Oyegun
Chief Odigie-Oyegun who was at the venue of the conference when the bombs exploded said it was insulting to the people of region for MEND to plant and detonate bombs at an event organized by a media organization like Vanguard to chart a way forward for the region.
He said: "It shows that these people have no respect for the elders and leaders of the region. How can we be gathered for a programme and they are detonating bombs, according to them, to make a statement. What statement? Are they saying that Niger-Delta people cannot meet again?
"It's unfortunate that such a thing happened, those who did this are disgracing Niger-Delta and humiliating themselves because you cannot be fighting for the region and doing all these."
People won't be intimidated - Delta govt