MARCH 3, 2012 BY EMMANUEL ADDEH, WARRI
An ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta, ‘Gen.’ Para Ekiyes, on Thursday accused the Federal Government of compounding the fragile security situation in the Niger Delta.
The wanted ex-militant, who warned the Boko Haram sect against the destruction of innocent lives, maintained that if the sect continued its attacks, the ex-militants would be forced to retaliate.
He accused the FG of being partial in dealing with the Boko Haram sect, adding that till date, no community in the North had been destroyed or cordoned off by the military like what took place in the Niger Delta.
He said the actions of the Boko Haram sect should not be compared with the agitation of the Niger Delta people for the equitable distribution of resources, adding that the militants never wasted innocent lives.
Ekiyes, who was declared wanted along with six others for the bombing of an AGIP facility in Bayelsa about three weeks ago, maintained that unless the FG descended from its high horse and responded to the demands of the ex-militants, peace would remain elusive.
He demanded the immediate withdrawal of the statement declaring him and his group wanted, adding that unless the declaration was retracted there would be no basis for discussions.
The light-complexioned ex-militant leader told our correspondent in an interview in Warri that the decision of the FG to declare him wanted was a “big mistake.”
He noted that by arresting his “boys,” the government, the Joint Military Task Force and the management of the amnesty programme had become the greatest source of threat to the oil-rich region.
Ekiyes, who is the chairman of Delta State chapter of the Third Phase Amnesty Agitators, stated that he and his group should be “looking for” the FG and the JTF for collecting their arms and excluding them from the amnesty programme.
He demanded the release of seven members of his group that had been arrested by the military, insisting that the application of force would worsen the already fragile peace in the Niger Delta.
He said, “As you are aware, I have been declared wanted by the JTF. But if you must know, Kuku (Kingsley), the FG and the JTF are the cause of the tension in the region. They have started arresting my boys.
“They are looking for me because I am the leader of this group. But how do they expect me to talk to my boys when they are being arrested? Besides, the two-week ultimatum we gave the FG has expired and we are still waiting for them to do something.”
But the JTF described the wanted ex-militants as criminals, adding that unless they submitted themselves to the authorities and looked for peaceful ways of engaging the government, they would end up like their late leaders.
JTF spokesman, Lt.-Col. Timothy Antigha, in an interview on Thursday, said the task force was not the FG that reserved the powers to grant amnesty.
He said, “These people are criminals. Where were they when the amnesty window was opened and the serious ones among them embraced it?
“In fact, there was a second phase which was accepted by the government. At any rate, the JTF does not possess the powers to give amnesty. They should engage the government peacefully if they are wise or they will end up like John Togo.”
New York Times
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