Former defence minister, Gen. Yakubu Danjuma, yesterday got a seven-day ultimatum from a group of ex-militants in the Niger Delta to withdraw his statement in which he called for the arrest of some former warlords or face their wrath.
Gen. Danjuma had, on Wednesday, condemned last weekend’s meeting of the former warlords in Yenagoa where they threatened to unleash terror on the country if President Goodluck Jonathan loses next month’s election.
Danjuma called for immediate arrest of the war mongers including Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo, Asari Dokubo and Victor Ben Ebikabowei a.k.a. Boyloaf.
A group of ex-militants —the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative—led by Reuben Wilson, issued the ultimatum to Danjuma to withdraw the ‘insult’, failing which it said he would be courting trouble.
Boyloaf, reacting separately to Danjuma’s call for the arrest of the militants, threatened yesterday to attack the general’s assets in the Niger Delta if he fails to “retrace his steps” and apologise to the former militants and the people of the Niger Delta.
The Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, in a statement by its President, Reuben Wilson, said that Danjuma, by calling for the arrest of the militants “has walked on the tail of the serpent.”
The group said: “As much as he has the right to free speech, Danjuma ought to know that the oil money he is enjoying today, through his ownership of oil blocs, came from our sacrifices and blood. We staked our lives to fight for the development of our country.
“We fought for freedom for our land and it pains us that people like Danjuma who have reaped bountifully from the Niger Delta, can wake up to insult our sensibilities.
“For Danjuma to call for the arrest of Asari Dokubo, then he has walked on the tail of the serpent.
“The much we know is that we the ex militants who decided to drop our guns to join forces with the federal government to develop the country, especially the Niger Delta, have never said anything or taken any action that would warrant such explosives from Danjuma.“
Restating its support for President Jonathan in next month’s election,the group said: “All we have said overtime is that our brother and president, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a true son of the Niger Delta, deserves to enjoy the two terms in office provided for in the constitution.
“We stand by this right and we will do everything legal and legitimate to make sure that he is not robbed of that right; not by a thousand Danjumas.
“Danjuma cannot be enjoying our oil money and be insulting us at the same time. We are therefore giving him seven days from today to retract the statement he made to the media on the arrest of Asari Dokubo. We see his call as a declaration of war with the former fighters and we will like to tell him that we are ready to face him, having declared himself our enemy.
“We are well aware that he owns oil blocs in the Niger Delta. He cannot be eating from our farm and at the same time calling us stupid and wishing that we should be arrested while he continues to harvest from our farm.
“Danjuma should apologise to all the former fighters or we will assume that he has no regrets for his utterances.
“We wish to sound this note of warning to all those who think they can intimidate us and force us to abandon our struggle for the re-election of Jonathan-their joint effort aimed at denying us our right will not work. They may be in the majority but we have a minority oil and that is what is feeding this country.
“If they want to push a minority man out of Aso Rock by force, they should start thinking of where they will get money to keep their man in Aso Rock because our oil money will no more be there for them to share.
“Danjuma must retract the statement within 7 days and apologise to us.”
Ebokabowei, on his part described Danjuma’s demand for their arrest as “reckless and provocative,” and wondered why the former chief of army staff did not condemn the attack on the president’s convoy in some northern states.
His words:“What are the issues that elicited retired General TY Danjuma’s reckless and provocative call? When the motor convoy (sic) of the symbol of our collective national sovereignty, President Goodluck Jonathan, was attacked in northern cities of Jos, Katsina and Bauchi, by hegemonic Northern establishment and their hired elements, retired General T.Y Danjuma did not grant any interview to condemn the act.
“He lost his voice because he is in tacit support of such manoeuvres to disgrace and remove President Goodluck Jonathan from office using whatever means possible.
“Nigerians should not be deceived; retired General TY Danjuma is not moved to intervene in national issues for altruistic reasons.”
He alleged that Danjuma has failed to provide for the Niger Delta communities where his company prospects for oil.
“Is this the kind of man that will now speak about the unity of Nigeria? For General TY Danjuma and his likes, the unity of Nigeria centres on the control of the oil resources in the Niger Delta.
“Our eyes are now open. Wwe are watching. Any attempt to cause any inconvenience by way of arrest or intimidation of any Niger Delta leader will be met with stiff resistance and the consequences will be grave and disproportional. This is a promise and not a threat,” he said.
However, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on the amnesty programme, Mr Kingsley Kuku, dismissed reports that the Ijaw will go to war if President Goodluck Jonathan is not re-elected into office.
Tompolo, Dokubo, Boyloaf and other former warlords, Kuku said, only expressed concern over the way the president was treated during his campaign in Bauchi and Katsina states.
Kuku reacted to the reports in Abuja yesterday at a forum on how to apply the lessons learnt from the solutions that brought the Niger Delta militancy to a calm, in solving the Boko Haram problem.
Aside from this, Kuku also asked leaders from the North-East to take ownership of the Boko Haram problem and end it.
Kuku and Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State were at the Yenagoa meeting of the ex-warlords.
The meeting took place at the Government House, Yenagoa.
Also yesterday, the Northern Coalition for Good Governance condemned the recent war threats issued by the Niger Delta militants.
It urged politicians to shun acts capable of endangering the country’s democracy.
The group also insisted that all the people suspected to have played any role in the post 2011 election violence should be brought to book with a view to ensuring violence-free elections next month.
The Group’s Director of Research and Documentation, Dr. Ibrahim Baba, told journalists in Abuja after a protest demanding justice during the elections that Nigerians should not allow the 2011 post-election violence repeat itself.
He argued that one of the ways that election violence could be averted is by the prosecution of those involved.
He said the group would stand against anybody or group trying to divide the country through religion, ethnicity or tribalism.
On Dokubo, he said, “We condemn Dokubo’s threat and any act of linguistics intimidation. We condemn it in all entirety. There is nobody that is above the law; nobody should try to sectionalize the country for whatever reason. We condemn Asari-Dokubo and his vituperations; we condemn any person that is trying to promote ethnicity, religion and tribalism. Asari-Dokubo is not an exception and we want to say that if he is found culpable in any thing we will also take him head on”.
Bisi OLANIYI and Vincent IKUOMOLA, The Nation