TWO top â€œgeneralsâ€ of Camp 5, the militant group controlled by militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, yesterday, disowned the purported spokesman of a faction of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), Prince Joseph Ettela Harry, who claimed he was mandated by Tompolo to negotiate on his behalf and his â€œcommandâ€ with the Federal Government, calling for his arrest by security agents to unravel his actual sponsors and mission.
MEND, in a statement by Jomo Gbomo, also disclaimed him, describing him as an impostor and fraudster.
Also, fresh information emerged that the leader of the Niger-Delta Freedom Fighters (NDFF), Egbema 1 was not arrested by the police in Edo State, as reported yesterday.
Egbema 1, who spoke to Vanguard on his purported arrest, said he was embarrassed by the report.
Vanguard investigations showed that the leader of the NDFF, Robert Okubo, who had already promised to accept the government’s amnesty, was the one that was arrested along with about 17 others by the police while going for a burial ceremony in connection with the recent kidnappings in Edo State.
Prince Harry was reported to have produced evidence of Right of Attorney from the militant leader, saying Tompolo and other â€œgeneralsâ€ and â€œcommandersâ€ under his command were ready to surrender their weapons if government was ready to buy back, build accommodation for them and allocate some oil wills to them among other demands.
He told newsmen in Abuja that the group was also ready to surrender at least 50 per cent of its weapons, made up of 7000 AK-47, 1000 General Purpose Machine Guns (GMPGs), unspecified number of bombs, other explosives and full military and police uniforms in its possession in one week if the Federal Government met its demands.
But one of Tompoloâ€˜s â€œcommandersâ€ who sounded very furious told Vanguard on phone yesterday, â€œI can tell you that this guy that is speaking may not have even met Tompolo one on one, he does not even know whether he is black or yellow and he is claiming to be representing him, how can somebody who said he is from Ikwerre be representing Tompolo who is from Delta state in such a critical matterâ€.
His words, â€œI can tell you authoritatively that he is not representing Tompolo, he did not send him, if there is anything like that, I will know, we donâ€™t know this guy and my suggestion is that he should be arrested and interrogated so that he will tell the government who is using him and what his purpose is in all the things he has been saying for sometime nowâ€.
â€œWhich arms is he saying that Tompolo want to surrender, is he not a witness to the raid of Camp 5 by the JTF in which they have said that they have recovered all the arms in Camp 5 and its satellite branches, so, where did he see Tompolo and he told him that he was going to surrender those arms he mentionedâ€, he said.
â€œTake it from me, Tompolo is going to make a public statement soon on his position on all these issues, it is not what this impostor is saying, but, one thing is that he is not against amnesty. The Federal and Delta State governments know this, it is just that the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta overreacted over the killing of some soldiers on May 13 and without waiting to hear from Tompolo or give room for dialogue to know what exactly cause the incident, they invaded Gbarmatu kingdom, killed the people and destroyed their communitiesâ€, he added.
Another â€œgeneralâ€ in Tompoloâ€™s â€œcommandâ€ told Vanguard, â€œMr. Etella Onwunchekwa should speak for his Ikwere or Rumuola ethnic nationality and shold stop parading himself as speaking on behalf of Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo because Chief Tompolo, anywhere, anytime represent the genuine struggle, as such, he will mandate a genuine and truthful man that will represent Ijaw and Niger-Delta interest in bringing the needed peace and development to the region, not impostors, criminal elements to wither the progress of the amnesty processâ€.
Harry is an impostor â€“ MEND
In the words of Jomo Gbomo, â€œFor the second time, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to dissociate itself from an impostor and fraudster, a self acclaimed Prince Joseph Etella Harry who first claimed to speak for MEND but is now claiming to speak for a faction of MEND controlled by Tompolo over the amnesty issueâ€,
â€œMEND has no faction and has never interacted with this individual over the amnesty issue.
â€œOur integrity and reputation is something we will guard jealously at a time when criminals have tainted the amnesty program with bribery and corruption.â€œBy compromising certain individuals to put up a show aimed at deceiving the public that the amnesty program is on course, MEND is watching the charade from a distance and can predict the outcomeâ€, he asserted.
Egbema 1 not arrested
Meanwhile, fresh information available to Vanguard indicated that the leader of the NDFF, Egbema 1 was not arrested by the police in Edo state. A source said Egbema 1 was among the over 30 militant leaders that visited President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua in Abuja , last week, to renounce militancy and accept amnesty, and so, it was appalling to associate him with such act after he had repudiated it.
It was, however, found that a militant leader in Edo State , Okubo Robert and 17 others were arrested by the police in the state in connection with the recent kidnappings in the state capital, Benin â€“City, and environs.
Okubo is a leader of the NDFF in Olodiama, Edo state, but, curiously, he promised to accept the amnesty offer of the Federal Government few days before he was arrested.
He was reportedly arrested along with the chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) in Gbaraun community, a councillor in Inikorogba ward, Hon. Lee Benson, Chief Ebitebelar and others on Saturday on their way to the burial ceremony of the late Chief Kalayolo at Ekenwan village.
Coordinator of the Implementation Committee of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty, Air -Vice Marshal Paul Ararile told Vanguard when contacted on Monday that he was aware of the arrest of Okubo by the police in Edo State .
He, however, said the information he got from the police was that that the militant leader was nabbed in connection with his role in several abduction cases in the state, pointing out that as that the time he was arrested, Okubo was yet to officially accept the Federal Government amnesty.
AVM Ararile said declaration of intention to accept amnesty was not the same thing as accepting amnesty and it was wrong for militants to be parading the state with guns without reporting to the arms collection centres to turn in their arms.
He said the proper thing to do was to come to the arms collection centre, register, complete all other necessary facilities and be issued with identity card, adding that Okubo has not followed the due process and the police should be allowed to do their work.
Nevertheless, the vice chairman of the IYC, in-charge of Delta, Edo and Ondo states, Mr. Andrew Igiri told Vanguard yesterday that the council was displeased with the arrest of about 18 Ijaw indigenes that were going for a burial ceremony under the pretext that they were kidnappers by the police when nothing was found on them.
He confirmed that Okubo in separate publications in the Vanguard and Nation editions of August 7 and 4 respectively renounced militancy and accepted the presidential amnesty offer, stating categorically that the reason why he and his boys carried arms in the past was because of the injustice perpetrated against the Ijaws of Edo state.
Mr. Igiri said the arrest of Okubo who had openly accepted amnesty and other Ijaw leaders, including a councillor came as a shock to the council, which has been preaching to the militants to accept amnesty.
He claimed the police were creating problem where there is none, adding, â€œI think it is not the best and so, the injustice and abandonment done to the Ijaws of Edo state should be addressed â€œ.
Igiri called on the governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to look into the matter and ensure the release of the arrested persons.
According to him, â€œThe Ijaw Youth Council is in support of the security beef up in Edo state and so any Ijaw youth that is having the mind of criminality must desist from it for the IYC will not defend such actionâ€.
Ijaw denies attack on Itsekiri boatMeanwhile, the Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group (WIPMG), Chief Patrick Bigha, yesterday, a news report that some Ijaw youths attacked an Itsekiri transport boat (Kpepkekpe) on Thursday, last week, killing one person and injured several persons, saying the allegation that Ijaws carried out the attack was mischievous.
â€œWe wish to state that the news of the attack was a mischievous one; that because the attack took place close to an Ijaw community does not mean that it was carried out by Ijaw youths; after all, Itsekiri youths are also known to be carrying arms, as they were the ones that attacked Chevron crew boat because the Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan could not visit Ugborodo when he visited the Escravos area in June 2007.
â€œMore over, the attack could not have been carried out by Ijaw youths as they have ceased fire and have equally embraced the presidential amnesty, declared a month agoâ€, he stated.
His words, â€œThe Ijaws are peace- loving people and have demonstrated this over the years, they are not at war with their neighboursâ€.