June 14, 2009

Misunderstanding in MEND! “Commander” Ogunbos opens up

* There’s no division – Jomo Gbomo


ONE high ranking member of the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), “Commander” Ogunbos, who led the confrontation with the JTF at the Igbomoturu Creeks in Bayelsa State during the last Easter opened up exclusively to Sunday Vanguard, weekend, on what appears to be a crisis of confidence in the militant group.

He was, however, specific that there was no division or crack in the group, saying, “You may say there is conflict of words” among the members of the Upper Senate House of MEND but we have an understanding on what we are doing”.

Lately, second-in-command to Henry Okah and the acting leader of MEND, “General” Boyloaf said he and his followers in Bayelsa, part of Delta, Rivers and other states were stopping further hostilities in the region and would accept the proposed Federal Government amnesty to pave the way for peace and rapid development, as promised by the government.

But MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo in an online response to an inquiry by Sunday Vanguard also said there was no division in the militant group.

His words, “Boyloaf’s position as a commander was part of a military strategy to make the enemy complacent and it worked. You will know if we are in sync or divided after he hands over the weapons in his camp and accept the Greek amnesty offer, he will not speak on behalf of MEND since we have a channel of communication on such weighty issues, which is through the group’s spokesman”.

On whether Boyloaf is the acting leader of MEND, he said “That is an internal affair and by the way, MEND has never publicized its command structure so I suspect he was misquoted to be referred to as the acting leader of MEND”.

Indeed, barely 24 hours after “General” Boyloaf declared a truce on behalf of the militants as MEND leader in an interview that was published in  SundayVanguard, the militant group attacked the Otunana flow station in Delta State in commencement of its fresh war, dubbed, “Hurricane Piper Alpha”.

The JTF and some villagers debunked the claim, saying it was a fire incident, occasioned by system failure in one of the flow station’s platforms.

MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo in response fresh to a Sunday Vanguard investigation, earlier in the week, quoting some community leaders and villagers and latest information that the militant group fired Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) at the gas storage tank by militants said, “We read your story about an “investigation” and wonder how your investigation was conducted and if it was carried out by a professional fire investigator”.

“It becomes strange to investigate and come up with a conclusion on the origin of the fire if you were not there within the time frame your investigators did. How did the villagers enter the facility to conclude it was a system failure when that area is off-limits?

The JTF now constitutes itself, as Jack of all trade by delving into matters they know nothing about. The only people who ought to conclude after an investigation is Chevron”, he added.

Boyloaf later said he specified Bayelsa, Rivers and  part of Delta, not the entire Delta State  in his earlier interview and called for amnesty for the wanted leader of  Camp 5, Government Ekpemupolo , alias Tompolo and all other militants, including the detained Henry Okah for total peace to reign in the region.

But, as if to prove that the Utunana flow station affair was not a fluke, MEND, two days ago, bombarded a crude oil pipeline and gas pipeline in Delta State and reiterated its warning to oil companies to quit the region, just as it announced the Escravos Tank Farm in Delta State, as its next target.