Seize 26 AK-47 rifles; one K.2 rifle; 900 rounds of live ammunition, 68 magazines, 11 boxes of live ammunition containing 7.62mm bullets
By Emma Amaize, Samuel Oyadongha, Gabriel Enogholase & Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT â€” THE Rivers State Police command yesterday raided an arms depot allegedly belonging to leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Alhaji Asari Dokubo, in Rumuodemanya part of the state.
Meanwhile, efforts by newsmen that besieged the police headquarters on Moscow road yesterday for comments were fruitless as no police officer was ready to talk on it. The Assistant Inspector of Police (AIG) Zone 6 Command with headquarters in Calabar, Mr Azubuko Udah, who was also at the police headquarters in Port Harcourt avoided interaction with the media on the development.
Nevertheless, the arms and ammunition recovered from the raid were all on display at the Commandâ€™s premises and two of the suspected arrested during the operation were in a police van packed beside the displayed arms with blood dripping from injuries they apparently sustained during the encounter with the police. Their names were given as Kingsley Solomon and Dapriye Dappa.
The items on display included twenty-six AK-47 rifles, seven used AK-47 rifle magazines; one K.2 rifle, nine hundred rounds of live ammunition, 68 magazines, eleven boxes of live ammunition containing 7.62mm bullets.
Prince Wisdom Amachree, aka (General Adekunle) who simply described himself as the second-in-command to Asari Dokubo told newsmen within the Police headquarters that he facilitated the arrest and recovery.
According to him, the arms were procured by the group to prosecute its plan to severe the region from the federation. He said they had acquired over four thousand sophisticated rifles for this purpose. And more of these guns were on their way to the region
He explained that he had to bring in the police when he realised the need to protect the unity of the country.
All efforts to reach Asari Dokubo on his mobile phones yesterday proved abortive. A source however told Vanguard that he has travelled to Germany for an undisclosed mission.
Okah asked me to shun amnesty â€”Boyloaf
Meantime, former commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), â€œGeneralâ€ Boyloaf, yesterday, opened up on why he fell out with the leader of the group, Mr. Henry Okah, saying the latter asked him soon after he was released not to surrender his arms and was ungrateful for the efforts he and others put in to ensure his release.
Presidential aide gave me N15m for â€˜Operation Black Februaryâ€™
Boyloaf also revealed, for the first time, the identity of one of the top militant sponsors in the region. The financier who is a politician (names withheld by Vanguard) is presently an aide in the Presidency and reportedly gave Boyloaf, known then as Brutus Ebipade, N15 million in 2005 to execute â€œOperation Black Februaryâ€.
But Mr. Wilson Ajuya, counsel to Henry Okah stated categorically when contacted by Vanguard, yesterday, that Henry Okah did not at any time ask Boyloaf not to surrender his arms and was not at anytime unappreciative for the role Boyloaf and others played to get his release.
He said he (Ajuya) was with Henry Okah when he spoke to Boyloaf on the day he was released and â€œhe thanked him, so the allegation is not trueâ€.
Meanwhile, there was no indication yesterday that any militant returned his arms to the collection centre set up at the Federal Government College, Warri. What Vanguard noticed was heavy security presence.
According to Boyloaf who spoke on phone, â€œIt is the height of ingratitude for them to be saying that I accepted amnesty and decided to lay down arms because of the money I am going to get from the Federal Government, whereas everybody knows that I made a statement publicly that I will accept amnesty and drop my arms if Henry Okah is released.
â€œYou see, I am a man of my words, I cannot go back on the statement I have made publicly, the first thing that Okah told me when he spoke to me after his release is that I should hold on, that I should not surrender my arms and he has been going about inciting other people in their camps not to surrender their arms.
â€œThe whole thing is that he was giving me wrong impressions why I should not surrender my arms against a position I have made public. At this age, I donâ€™t think people should use me, I have fought for his release and he is out, I should not be used further and it was then I started seeing why somebody like Alhaji Mujaheeden Dokubo-Asari is at loggerheads with himâ€, he said.
On the militant sponsor, he said the presidential aide would ruin the amnesty programme for his selfish political motives if not put in check, saying that those accusing him of posturing for money were being unfair, â€œbecause I was offered a mouth-watering sum when Henry Okah was in detention to forget about the struggle for his release but I refused and kept on fighting until he was released, why should they stab me in the back when I stood behind him all through his ordealâ€.
Commenting on his recent meeting with President Yarâ€™Adua, Boyloaf said, â€œall we discussed is how peace is going to come to the Niger-Delta regionâ€.
Mr. Ajuya maintained the entire allegations by Boyloaf were unfounded, saying he was free to surrender his arms at anytime and leave his client out of it, but, the fundamental thing, as pointed out by the spokesman of MEND, Jomo Gbomo, was the root cause of the Niger-Delta crisis, which is that true federalism and underdevelopment should be addressed.
Bayelsaâ€™s 12 arms collection centres open
Arms collection and rehabilitation centres for militants who have agreed to surrender their weapons in Bayelsa State have begun operation with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) forced to relocate from its Sagbama office.
Bayelsa State alone has about 12 militant camps, the highest in the Niger Delta region while five of the recognised leaders have agreed to turn in their arms in accordance with the presidential amnesty.
To this end, the Federal Road Safety Commission office at Sagbama, one of the designated collection centres in the predominantly riverine state has temporarily relocated to the Governorâ€™s Lodge pending the conclusion of the amnesty programme.
No fewer than 24 armed soldiers in three Toyota Hiace buses yesterday arrived the Sagbama office of the Federal Road Safety Commission at exactly 2.45pm with a view to setting up the arms collection centre which is expected to commence full operation today (Friday).
Items brought along by the soldiers led a Lieutenant include, a generating set, plastic chairs and tables and other camping kits.
Though there was no visible sign of activity yesterday at the collection centre but a white Toyota Hilux with Bayelsa State Government registration number was seen conveying mattresses to the Federal Science and Technical College, Tungbo rehabilitation centre.
About 250 mattresses were counted at the rehabilitation centre when this reporter visited the institution.
A senior military officer who spoke to Vanguard said that full operation would commence in the next couple of days as most of the militants might want to study the situation on ground before coming out.
He, however, assured that the security personnel on ground would ensure that the exercise is hitch-free in line with the presidential directive.
â€œMany of the militants might be apprehensive for now but we are optimistic that they will come out. We shall implement the amnesty to the letter in line with the President and Commander-in-Chiefâ€™s proclamation,â€ he assured.
At the Federal Government Girls College, Imiringi rehabilitation centre in the Ogbia Local Government Area of the state, there was no serious activity except for some workmen doing renovation work around the hostel and the noticed movement of additional mattresses into the hostels.
The officials on ground were not prepared to speak when asked what would be the fate of the students when schools resume from the long holidays.
Although the coastal enclave of Nembe could not be reached to ascertain if it has commenced operation but it was learnt that like the Sagbama area collection centre soldiers have been deployed there to conduct the exercise.
…Also in Edo State
In Edo State, National Coordinator of the Amnesty process, Air Marshal L. O. Ararile yesterday approved Egbeme Secondary School Ofunama, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo State as the arms collection point in the state.
A statement by Ehimigbai Odiai, Permanent Secretary, Directorate of Cabinet, Political and Special Services, Office of the Governor, appealed to the militant groups operating in the state who wish to embrace the Amnesty offer to do so between 6th of August and 2nd October, 2009.
He disclosed that a reception team assembled by the Federal Government would be on hand to collect the arms, ammunition and explosives and to also document the ex-militantsâ€™ personal data.
Meanwhile, a militant group in Edo State has promised to accept the amnesty offer of the Federal Government and dialogue with the Federal Government for the betterment of Niger Delta region.
The group which called itself the Niger Delta Freedom Fighters, Olodiama chapter in a statement signed by its leader, Okubo Robert called on the Federal Government to work with the Edo State Government and urgently pay attention to their problems with a view to developing the region.
They said it would be a welcome development if the Federal Government was not biased on the amnesty offer as they were ready to surrender their arms.
The NDFF claimed that they decided to take to arms and join their brothers to press home their demand for the creation of Toru-Ibe Local Government Council for the Ijaws in Edo State.
Complaining over lack of representative in the Edo State House of Assembly and the non appointment of Ijaw to political offices in Edo State, NDFF also said that unemployment of youths by the government and companies in Ijaw land, lack of access roads to Ijaw communities and other social amenities like good school, hospitals were reasons behind their taking up arms.
â€œAll these are pains which had eaten deep to the fabrics of the Ijaw nation in Edo State. Our land has been rendered useless in the name of oil exploration which we do not have share of.â€