By Emma Amaize,
SPOKESMAN of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), Jomo Gbomo has explained the reason for the recent secret meeting between the leader of Camp 5, Government Ekpemupolo and the supposed leader of the group, Henry Okah.
In an exclusive response to an electronic mail inquiry by Saturday Vanguard, he said Tompolo wanted to give Henry Okah a â€œbrotherlyâ€ hug, adding the other aspect of the meeting was behind closed doors.
The government has dismissed MENDâ€™s threat of likely resumption of hostilities after the expiration of its 60-day ceasefire on September 15 as an empty threat, what is your comment on this?
The fact that they have been responding to the threat and sending governors all over media houses is an indication that they are troubled. The truth is that the oil companies do not believe in their assurances because they have learnt the hard way when Hurricane Piper Alpha grounded oil companies after the lame assurances from the JTF.
Who are the Aaron team of MEND at the moment, you said it would be limited to two persons at a time and why did they not forge ahead with discussions with the Honorary Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe?
The Aaron team has not yet been selected. Contacts and preliminary discussions with Timi Alaibe with others revealed he was thinking like the government who believes in disarmament without discussions of the root issues.
Is the meeting of Henry Okah and Tompolo to fortify MEND for the task ahead or they met to reconcile their differences and stay together for future assignments?
Okah and Tompolo met face to face because Tompolo wanted to give Henry a brotherly hug. They had been talking since his release as the relationship has been very cordial. Other aspects of the meeting were held behind closed door.
Not a few are insisting that MEND had been gravely depleted and it cannot wage further guerrilla warfare in the region since most of its fighters have either accepted amnesty or surrendered their arms, do you think that group is still potent as before?
How can anyone talk of depletion when they have no idea of the total figure of fighting men? The men that carried out operations Piper Alpha and Moses as well as the Atlas Cove attacks are still intact, so what more figures do we need.
Our type of tactics will be defeated where large numbers are involved and as such, the highly professional commandos we have are just okay. There are other strategies we have that have not yet been used and we will keep those close to our chest.
The compromised commander that put up a show in Yenagoa recently and others with him were not part of the operations mentioned above and yet we triumphed. This should tell you a lot.
The governor of Bayelsa State thinks those claiming that MEND will resume hostilities after September 15 are those who sit down in their bedroom and sent emails to media houses, do you agree with that description of the members of
MEND that are still in the fold?
That is taken as a compliment. It only shows that technology has advanced where information from the comfort of the bedroom has been used to destabilize the JTF and government propaganda machinery who receive a huge budget for media publicity.
What is the significance of the meeting of Henry Okah with Tompolo recently to the Niger-Delta struggle?
They are leaders who are committed to justice and peace for the region. We can trust them to put the region before self and that is an important attribute.
Now that Henry Okah is out of detention and back to South_Africa, why should MEND not end arms struggle and allow a non-violent phase to thrive in the Niger â€“Delta?
We understand the type of enemy we are fighting. They are arrogant and deaf. Without being flogged to draw attention to our sign language, they will not grasp that the time for change has come.
Is MEND not worried that some of its members who had accepted amnesty may join government to fight them if it decides to make good its threat after September 15?
MEND is in fact encouraging all its commanders who are known to the government security agencies and the public to â€œacceptâ€ the amnesty because the group can only thrive in secrecy. We expect that in the coming days and weeks, the likes of Tompolo, Farah Dagogo and others would go. We are grateful to them for their input and wish them well in their future endeavours.
There are capable unknown lieutenants that will continue the fight. The advantage of the amnesty is that we have discovered that apart from very few who accepted it for money; many will yield to it but will remain firm on the inside even though they bend on the outside. They form the majority, so to us we have asked a large group of our people to leave as they will be useful outside than inside the creeks. We see the amnesty as a blessing in disguise and a God-sent.