By Emma Amaize
WARRIâ€”EXCEPT the Federal Government takes urgent and bold steps, its amnesty programme for militants may break down, following an intensive power play between the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) and a number of its former leaders who have dumped the group to embrace the governmentâ€™s olive branch.
Under normal circumstances, the Federal Government is supposed to stand determinedly behind any militant that has accepted amnestyÂ and fight any person, persons, group or groups that is, or are in anyway, intimidating, cowing them in any manner from responding to its call.
But itâ€™s practically watching, not doing much in tangible terms while the roof is being pulled down on those that have embraced its amnesty programme.
Clearly, a former MEND commander, Victor Ben, alias Boyloaf, who led 31 former militant leaders to Aso Villa, Abuja, not too long ago, to accept amnesty is the arrow-head of the â€œrebelsâ€ that MEND wants to pull down by all means for the outstanding action.
There is no doubt that there had been no love lost between Boyloaf and his former boss, Henry Okah, since the latter was released over some â€œirreconcilable disagreementsâ€, but, whatever is Boyloafâ€™s â€œsinsâ€ against his former colleagues, the government is obligatedÂ to him and others that have accepted amnesty and surrenderedÂ arms to be providedÂ them maximum protection and save them from the torrents of attacks they have been subjected in the past one month or thereabout for hearkening to the clarion call of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua on militants to accept amnesty.
What started as an inconsequential quarrel over rights or otherwise of Boyloaf and a few others to accept amnesty in the first instance and which MEND accepted on the grounds that they have the imprimatur to decide whether to continue to participate, or otherwise in the struggle, has resulted to serious threat to the lives of some of the repentant militants.
At a time, Boyloaf was alleged to have escaped to Abuja to avoid being killed, but, he maintained before he formally surrendered his weapons that he was not afraid of anybody and would crush anybody that stood on his way.
From the look of things, it now appears to be a battle between MEND and Boyloaf for audaciously surrendering arms, not the Federal Government and MEND for not formally embracing amnesty, and this is certainly not good testimonial for the shaky amnesty programme.
MEND had, nonetheless, explained it was not at war with any militant or its former commander, Boyloaf for accepting amnesty, saying Henry Okah accepted amnesty.
It also stated the new phase the struggle was about to enter does not demand that so many men or known faces should be in the battle field.
It said some of the people have lost the vision of the struggle and their decision to give up was in the best interest of the region.