Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND has again said it stands by its decision to take all necessary steps to protect the image of Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri from what it called criminal blackmail.

The group says the time has gone when people will hide under the veneer of press freedom to tarnish the hard-earned image, insisting that it will not allow those who “malign Governor General of Ijaw nation will pay heavily for it to serve as a deterrent for those intending to toe the nefarious path”.

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MEND through its Spokesman Commander Inetimi Godspower was reacting to online news alleging that the embattled governor Diri had deployed its members to threaten Sahara Reporters and activist, Deji Adeyanju.

Sahara Reporters had in its publication last week accused the governor of an illicit affair with the Speaker of the South African Parliament, Zanele Sifuba news shared by Adeyanju on his social media platforms.

The group on Monday pressed further for the immediate retraction of the said publication with an apology, saying it has instructed its lawyers to initiate legal action against Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, the news platform itself and Adeyanju.

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“It is infantile for a blackmailer-in-chief like Sahara Reporters to allege that Governor General of Ijaw nation, His Excellency governor Douye Diri has deployed us to speak against their criminal behavior.

“We want to make it clear that ANY action we can take to protect the image of our own will not be spared. This is not just criminal defamation against Gov. Diri but an attempt to bring the image of the entire Ijaw nation under disrepute.

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“When a self-acclaimed activist and reputable media organization allow themselves to be used by mischievous political interests, you begin to wonder where lies their imaginary credibility.

“This will serve as a bitter lesson to other cash and carry activists and media organisations. Enough is enough” he stated.