By Emma Amaize
WARRI â€” PRESIDENT Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and repentant militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, at a top secret meeting Monday night, in Abuja, settled on the way forward for Niger-Delta and the role Tompolo would play to help the government maintain peace in the region in the post-amnesty period.
Also, steps will be taken to bring ex-militant leaders, notably, Tompolo, Ateke Tom, Farah Dagogo and Boyloaf, who was the first militant to accept amnesty, and all others in their category together, in no distant future, to strategise on how to make the amnesty work and harmonise President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s expectations of them.
A security source told Vanguard: â€œTompolo and others will meet on their own and work out how to handle their former colleagues in the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, who neither accepted amnesty nor surrendered their arms. The government believes they can handle it and its part of the charge to themâ€.
One of the ex-militant leaders confided to Vanguard when contacted yesterday, that; â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s something we cannot handle.
After all, we were all members of MEND before now and even Henry Okah had accepted amnesty. Itâ€™s a question of us giving the Federal Government a chance to develop the region, itâ€™s only if they fail after giving them time that somebody will be justified to carry gun again. But for now, we should all allow peace to reign.
â€œOur deal is not with President Yarâ€™Adua as a person, itâ€™s with the Federal Government of Nigeria, which he is the President of and we will refer to our agreement with the government in future if they failed to deliver on the development of the regionâ€, he asserted.
Vanguard was reliably informed that Tompolo left Abuja for Delta State after the session with President Yarâ€™Adua. The details of the meeting are, however, still sketchy, as the strategies were said not to be for public consumption.
Dependable source said, â€œIt was a oneâ€“on-one meeting between Mr. President and Tompolo. Tompolo did not want to pass his message through any intermediary and only he and the President sat for the meetingâ€.
A close aide of Tompolo, however, frowned at a media report that as part of new deal between the Federal Government and Tompolo, the ex-militant leader would now guide oil pipelines in the Niger-Delta region, saying, â€œthat is the handiwork of a fifth columnist, there is nothing like that. How can they say that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) will now be guarding pipelines, is that normalâ€?
His words, â€œTompoloâ€™s position and message, which he conveyed personally to Yarâ€™Adua is regarding how peace will reign in the Niger-Delta. It is all about peace and concrete arrangement for development of Niger-Delta.
â€œHe stands for sustainable peace and development in the Niger-Delta and he passed the strategies for their attainment to Mr. President. He wanted to be sure that Yarâ€™Adua is committed to the development of the region and I can tell you that both of them have agreed on the way forwardâ€, the source added.
Meanwhile, an Ijaw youth leader, Mr. Michael Musoro from Diebiri clan, yesterday, commended Tompolo, Farah Dagogo, Chief Biborpe Ajube, alias Shoot-at-sight and Ateke Tom for their struggle to liberate the people of the Niger-Delta region as well as Mr. President for his mature approach, which had led to the granting of amnesty to militants.
He said the decision by President Yarâ€™Adua to adopt dialogue has removed the sail from the winds of some politicians who were bent on using the freedom fighters to cause anarchy, pointing out the next thing for the Federal Government to do was to embark on rapid development of the region.
â€œI want to advise that the GOC (Tompolo) should be part of whatever plan that the Nigerian nation has for the Niger-Delta people so that he can coordinate the ex-militants and even those that have refused to surrender to continue to maintain peaceâ€, he added.