■ NDA on rampage, blows up Agip Trunk Line
■ Militants demand release of Dasuki, Kanu, defreeze of Tompolo’s account
FROM FEMI FOLARANMI, YENEGOA
AN imminent showdown looms in the Niger Delta region between the Nigerian Military and members of the Niger Delta Avengers, (NDA) which has been responsible for the bombing of oil installations in Delta and Bayelsa States. As the peace move collapsed a few days ago following the bombing of a Chevron oil facility, NDA followed it with a letter to the international community calling for its intervention in the crisis in the region. Saturday Sun investigations revealed that the peace move hit the rocks because of the mutual distrust between the Military authorities and the sponsors of the NDA.
Even though the Presidency announced a ceasefire in its military operations and withdrawal of soldiers from Niger Delta communities, those behind the NDA believed that the Federal Government is not sincere but only using the ceasefire as a bait to unveil the sponsors of the group According to an insider in militant activities in the Niger Delta, NDA would not want to dialogue because it would expose those behind it. The source who insisted that Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo is behind the NDA stated that people are aware that the ceasefire is a smokescreen to get Tompolo and his boys.
He stated that with more groups linked to Tompolo springing up in the region, the military would have no option than to clamp down on them and arrest the situation. “The peace move is not going to work because all the parties are aware of what is happening. The Federal Government is aware that Tompolo is behind the NDA and the militants are also aware that the so called ceasefire and dialogue is to draw them out and deal with them. The rejection of the peace deal by NDA by bombing Chevron facility is to tell you that the NDA is not ready for peace because they know once they accept that, their sponsors would be known.
“All those other groups springing up are all creation of Tompolo and NDA to cause distraction and give the impression that there is a groundswell of agitation in the Niger Delta region. Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF) which threatened to launch missiles. Niger Delta Warriors and Niger Delta Undertakers are all created by NDA. They said military should vacate the region in 48 hours, the military did not leave and nothing happened. They said on Tuesday June 7, they would launch missiles hitting buildings in Abuja, Lagos and Kaduna, nothing happened. They said Tompolo has fled to Libya in a desperate move to shake off intelligence officers from his trail. All those groups were just created to cause panic and blackmail the Federal Government,” the source said.
But signals that more trouble looms in the region flashed recently with the emergence of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF. Their seven point demand worsened the already tense situation in the Niger Delta when it ask for the release of Col. Sambo Dasuki, the embattled former National Security Adviser. The struggle of the two Niger-Delta militant camps, the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA and the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF may be similar in objective. But there is something that has aspects that are illogical and inconsistent with each of the groups. Last week, both camps issued statements that disagreed. While NDA affirmed its total rejection for the peace move by the Federal Government, the JNDLF wants the Governors of the Niger Delta states to dialogue with the Federal Government on its behalf. The group, however, warned against betrayal of the regions demands as any form of betrayal would be met with dire consequences.
However, feelers from both groups are that the conflicting statements are a bait intended to create effects, using words to imply that they are in opposition. Until two weeks ago, JNDLF was a relatively unknown group in the narrative of the Niger Delta region compared to the Movement For the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA). However its threat to launch six missiles and trigger the forceful break-up of Nigeria, brought a new dimension to the fight for the control of the resources in the area.
JNDLF which coined its name from the defunct Joint Revolutionary Council( JRC) headed by Cynthia Whyte and John Togo led Niger Delta Liberation Force is made up of fringe members of different militant camps in Bayelsa whose leaders eventually embrace the Federal Government amnesty.
The group which is being run by General Akotebe Darikoro, (Commander, General Duties); General Torunanaowei Latei, (Creeks Network Coordinator); General Agbakakuro Owei-Tauro, (Pipelines Bleeding Expert) and General Pulokiri Ebiladei, (Intelligence Bureau) is based in Bayelsa State with the leaders adopting pseudonym to hide their identities. It is believed that the group has sympathy for ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo and was actually created to further advance the interest of the ex-militant leader in his face off with the Nigerian state.
The militant group which said it would ceasefire because of what it called “genuine aspiration on the part of Pharaoh of Nigeria (Buhari)” and negotiate with the Federal Government not for monetary compensation but for the development of the Niger Delta region, however, said, “we will continue our struggle without further warning to the federal government.
It made seven demands to be met by the Federal Government including the defreezing of Tompolo’s account. The group had earlier claimed in a recent statement that it would hunt down Tompolo in Libya where he fled to. The seven-point demand also include the immediate release of the Dr. Nnamdi Kanu, whose releases, they said, had been pronounced by the court severally, the beginning of what they described as the only Nigerian Maritime University sited where they claimed is the most appropriate place, Okerenkoko in Delta State this 2015/2016 academic session and the immediate implementation of the report of the 2014 National Conference report, “failure of which Nigeria will forcefully break-up.”
The group also demanded that the oil-polluted lands in the Niger Delta must be cleaned up, while compensation should be paid to all oil-producing communities, for example, Chevron fire outbreak, gas explosion in Koluama, Bayelsa State and Bonga Oil Spill in 2011, removal of Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd.) as an Amnesty Coordinator by replacing him with Dr. Felix Tuodolo who has been in the struggle of non-violence since 1980 and who designed the Amnesty programme,
The group claimed all the attacks on oil and gas pipelines in the region “is because the Pharaoh of Nigeria (Buhari) made a childish statement that, he will develop those areas that gave him 95 percent votes during his presidential election last year,” adding that, “we the Niger Delta people only gave him 5 percent hence we vowed that our oil money will not be used for the development of any other region.”
The JNDLF in a statement, however, offered reasons why it did not launch the six missiles it threatened to release on Tuesday June 7th. The statement signed by General Darikoro, General Latei, General Owei-Tauro and General Ebiladei on behalf of the Joint Revolutionary Council claimed it shelved the action because the Federal Government and the International Community contacted it through e-mail and pleaded for the missiles not to be launched.
A former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) General Africa Ukpariasia who corroborated the claims of the source noted that any peace move without the arrest of those behind NDA would continue to fail because the intent of the militant group is to blackmail the Federal Government with the bombing of oil installations. Africa who had earlier hinted of plans to commence another round of militancy in the region with his exposure of a training camp in Ese Odo, Ondo State, also maintained that former ex-militant leaders and the Federal Government are aware that Tompolo is behind NDA.
Though some ex-militant leaders under the aegis of Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) led by Wilson Reuben aka General Pastor are rooting for dialogue, Africa said ex-militant leaders would not allow the Federal Government to dialogue with criminals in the name of NDA. “Don’t be deceived. There is no way any peace talks can hold because everybody is aware of what is happening. Tompolo is behind NDA and the Federal Government is aware of this. Even all those groups coming up are all his creation. We won’t allow the Federal Government to discuss with criminals. We have accepted amnesty and that is all. Do they want another amnesty? We won’t have any talks with criminals” he said.
With tough talks like this couple with the uncompromising stance of the two militant groups, it is clear that the show down between the militant groups and the Federal Government is unavoidable.