From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The faceoff between former first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has split militant groups in the Niger Delta region.
The development which is threatening the on-going peace process involved the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Recently, NDA and MEND had agreed to allow foremost Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark to lead the pan-Niger Delta group negotiating team with the Federal Government on the resurgence of militancy in the region.
However, investigations revealed that the Mrs. Jonathan issue had caused a sharp divide revealing the vested interests of the two groups caught between support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
While the NDA members are said to be supporting Mrs. Jonathan, MEND are actively backing the EFCC in its quest to nail the former first lady.
An indication of MEND’s support for EFCC was its recent statement in which it withdraw one of its nominees, Mr Timipa Jenkins Okonipere from the Chief Clark’s group because of his (Okonipere) support for Mrs. Jonathan.
Okonipere’s law firm, First Law Solicitors had written an open letter to the EFCC Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu giving it 14 days to unfreeze her accounts.
Sources said Okonipere’s action infuriated the sponsors of MEND.
“MEND is not happy that Timipa Jenkins Okonipere is working for Mrs. Jonathan. His support for Mrs. Jonathan who the MEND’s sponsors want the EFCC to nail is what made them to remove Okonipere from the Clark committee.”
Meanwhile, further investigations have revealed that Okonipere is ready to work with the Niger Delta groups to ensure that Mrs. Jonathan is not humiliated and embarrassed by the EFCC.
He is said to be putting finishing touches to the petition to be submitted to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, Banjul, Gambia to address the breach of Mrs. Jonathan’s fundamental human rights to fair hearing and ownership of property guaranteed by the 1999 constitution and African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights(Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004, a source said.
Sources said since the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum given to the EFCC on Sunday October 2 , the next stage is to drag the EFCC to the African Commission in Gambia.