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The face-off between former First Lady, Mrs Patience Ibifaka Jonathan, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has torn apart militant groups in the Niger Delta region, threatening the on-going peace process.
On one hand are members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA); on the other hand are members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Recently NDA and MEND had agreed to allow respected 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 and the All Progressive Congress.
While the NDA members are said to be supporting Mrs Jonathan, MEND are actively supporting the EFCC case against the former First Lady.
An indication of MEND support for EFCC was its recent statement in which it withdraw one of its nominees, Mr Timipa Jenkins Okonipere, from the Chief Clark 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 frozen by the Commission.
Sources said Okonipere’s action infuriated the sponsors of MEND and that, without hearing from him, they decided to move against him by removing him from the Clark Committee.
“MEND is not happy that Timipa Jenkins Okonipere is working for Mrs Jonathan. His support for Mrs Jonathan, whom the MEND sponsors want the EFCC to nail, is what made them to remove Okonipere from the Clark committee,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, further investigations have revealed that Okonipere is ready to work with Niger Delta groups to ensure that Mrs Jonathan is not humiliated and embarrassed by the EFCC.
To this end, he is putting final touches to a 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 a fair hearing and ownership of property guaranteed by the 1999 constitution and African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act of 2004.
Sources said since the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum issued to the EFCC on Sunday October 2, the next stage for First Law Solicitors would be to file a case against the EFCC to the African Commission in Gambia.