From Sahara Reporters
A group of ex-militants in the Niger Delta, led by Government Ekpemopulo (aka Tompolo), on Friday met in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, and threatened war over what they described as coordinated attacks on the campaign team of President Goodluck Jonathan in some Northern States. The group vowed to resort to violence and engage in armed confrontation with anyone or group plotting to derail Mr. Jonathan’s second term ambition.
Those who attended the meeting, held at the Banquet Hall of the Bayelsa State Government House, included Kingsley Kuku, a special adviser to the president and chairman of the presidential amnesty program, Mujahid Asari Dokubo, Mr. Ekpemopulo, Victor Ben Ebikabowei (aka Boy Loaf), Eris Paul, also known as General Ogunboss, and Pastor Reuben.
Addressing the gathering in Ijaw language, Mr. Ekpemopulo, better known by his nickname of Tompolo, said he would not dwell on the recent cases of intimidation and attacks on President Goodluck Jonathan, but called on the youths and the political figures from the region to forgive one another and forge a united front. “Let us unite and within seven days, you will see what will happen,” he said.
The participants acknowledged that various issues had polarized members of the Ijaw ethnic group since Mr. Jonathan’s ascension as president, but they urged the youths of the region to work towards the re-election of President Jonathan in the February 14 presidential election.
Mr. Asari Dokubo, an unrepentant militant who has often invoked war if Mr. Jonathan was voted out, told the gathering that the recent stoning of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign convoy by youths from some Northern States was an open declaration of war. “This action is calling the Niger Delta youths to war,” he said.
Mr. Dokubo added: “Every Niger Delta youth should go and prepare for war. For the past four days, I have not slept well nor have I had a change of clothing. I have not been to my house. This is the time. The Northern youths are trying to know how important you are. After this time, no one will play with us. After the 2015 [election], no governor will play with us. We are saying we will fight with anything and everything that we have. Ijaw people cannot continue to suffer while other people enjoy.”
In his speech, Victor Ben Ebikabowei, the former deputy commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), declared that his recent decision to resign from the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson as director general of the state’s Youths Development Center, was based on the anticipated “call to war.” “All of us are strategists. I am not a politician and no politician can I intimidate me. I resigned my appointment because I know this day will come,” he said.
He added: “They want to use the issue of insecurity along the waterways of the Niger Delta to keep us busy. And today, they are intimidating our own [Jonathan]. I am Boy Loaf. I have retired but not tired. I will go back to the creeks if possible. Whether they like it or not, President Goodluck Jonathan will win. Now that the oil is below $50 per barrel, they want to use Boko Haram to take power. If they take power, we will demand for all the years of benefiting from oil. Nobody can intimidate the Niger Delta. Gone are the days you [could] intimidate people with the rifle.”
Mr. Kuku, who read the resolutions of the meeting, announced that the youths of the region had resolved to support the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan and would not take lightly any attacks on the campaign entourage of the president.