ABUJAâ€”FORMER commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), â€œGeneralâ€ Boyloaf, dropped a bombshell yesterday, saying the supposed leader of the group, Henry Okah, is not a freedom fighter but an arms supplier, who is not interested in the peace process in the Niger-Delta because it will close his line of business.
In an electronic mail statement made available to newsmen last night, the former MEND commander said he did all he could to ensure Henry Okahâ€™s release and had no regrets whatsoever for embracing amnesty after his (Okah) release by the Federal Government.
He said: â€œI am not a fool, I made a promise and I have to keep to my words no matter what Okah and others say.
â€œI have told you before that Okah was not a freedom fighter, but just an arms dealer who only traded on arms to the militants to enrich himself. Ask him, does he have a camp anywhere in the region? Do you leave in far away South Africa, trade on arms and call yourself leader?
How? â€œThey are angry because I have come out to accept amnesty; they are struggling because their source of making money in the name of struggle is overâ€.
He also called on the Federal Government to caution the media, especially the print media, not to jeopardize the present peace process, noting that â€œunconfirmed news will not help at this critical stage and we must not allow some unscrupulous elements whose interest are just focussed on making money out of the crisis to jeopardise the effortâ€.
Boyloaf said the federal government never called militants fools, stressing that he accepted amnesty because of governmentâ€™s resolve to develop the Niger Delta, reason for the agitation in the region.
Continuing, he said:Â â€œI came out publicly on August 7 and told the worldÂ that I was giving up arms to enable the Nigerian government commence development of the Niger Delta, which was the reason we took up arms in the first place.
â€œWho is talking about big boys,Â big boys in what?Â All we are talking about is peace; let us negotiate peace and let development come to our people who have suffered for too long.
â€œThe days of business as usualÂ is over for the businessmen who turned the struggle as an avenue to enrich themselves at the detriment of the people, and those who use the struggle to empower themselves politically in the corridors of power,Â we made history when we came out publicly and declare our acceptance to the government amnesty gesture to enable genuine development come to the region, and we stand by our words.â€
On the allegations that he was traitor, Boyloaf said he was not one, adding â€œI am not grand standing, it is not in my character.
â€œI am not hustling for any security contract, but if given the opportunity,Â I will do it in consultation with the communities and my co-leaders in the struggle since it is in the best interestÂ of our peopleâ€.