*Community leaders expose plot *It’s true, we‘re not denying – NDLF
By Emma Amaize
WARRI- LEADERS of some oil communities in Delta State, Monday, exposed the clandestine activities of some armed youths, suspected to be militants, who, in the past three days, were observed planting locally -made bombs on a number of oil pipelines and well heads in the creeks, with a view to blowing them up in the next few days.
It was learned that a new wave of fear had gripped residents of oil communities as a result of the discovery. The leaders who spoke to Vanguard in Warri declined mentioning their names and communities in print, saying the fighters would kill them if they found out they were the ones that leaked the information the information.
They said they were afraid that the Joint Task Force, JTF, on the Niger-Delta might come to raid the communities when the pipelines explode on the suspicion that those who perpetuated the act were from the locality and urged President Goodluck Jonathan to ask the task force to investigate properly.
Militants confirm plot
But when contacted, “Captain” Mark Anthony, the spokesman of the Niger-Delta Liberation Force, NDLF, led by “General” John Togo acknowledged that locally –made bombs were planted by the group’s fighters on some strategic oil pipelines in accordance to the two-week deadline given the government.
He said it should not be a surprise to anybody because the group had made its position clear before now. His words, “Mr. President, it is wise to announce to you in advance that all your pipelines shall soon go up in flames in Niger Delta, just as we did to the Kaduna major hot line in Delta state, last week”
“Captain” Anthony asserted, “ We have not started and for your information we have tied “Emgbigidi” (locally prepared bomb made up with explosives, clay soil, sand and other devices for pipeline destruction) on your pipelines and some well heads ready for detonation. Nigerian economy will crumble in your hand just only two weeks massive attack”, adding, “ Do you know that your pipelines are laying fallow unguided in our various barracks locations across the swampy creeks of Niger Delta?
This battle is the mother of all oil battle and to the best our knowledge; it may be the end of Niger Delta hostilities. We are ready to pick it up with your untrained soldiers, fire for fire, force for force and blood for blood to set our people free from internal colonialism and slavery”, he declared.
According to him, “Our oil war declaration remains standing and total freedom is our goal. We, therefore, direct all freedom fighters across the Niger Delta to destroy all oil pipelines and kidnap oil foreign workers until the government shows readiness to convene a conference of aggrieved ex-militants to be either represented by a high-powered delegation to a dialogue”.
On the current post-amnesty programme, he said, “Mr. President, the ongoing non-violence training, skill acquisition and paltry payment of N65.000 to repented armed youths is a welcome development. But you must also understand the fact that these are not the fundamental issues of the protracted armed struggle of freedom fighters and the pains of people of Niger Delta. We urge you to continue the payment and the ongoing training of the post amnesty because that is part of the stolen oil wealth of the Niger Delta people”.
For the avoidance of doubt, he said the group was not President Jonathan, saying, “We are fighting the fraudulent Nigerian government and its bad policies that continued our impoverishment and slavery as second class citizens”.
Angst with Jonathan
The militant group, however, expressed sadness that President Jonathan could call them criminals and send JTF to kill its fighters, saying, “Dear brother and President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, this is the second serial of our epistles to you from our barracks in the swampy mangrove creeks of Niger Delta. It is with uttermost deep emotion with pain to inform that our psyche and sensibilities are hurt severely by your unguided utterances as the number one citizen of the greatest black African countries, labeling us “criminals” in the face of our plight”
“You read a riot act that we must be stamped out with JTF sledge hammer like common robbery criminals by launching attacks on us. It is a common knowledge every part in the world that when rebel group rises against the ills of any government for justice to be done, they are labeled with bad names in order to hang them. That is our fate.
We are not criminals
“The scenario keeps replaying itself in Nigeria versus Niger -Delta freedom fighters over the years. For record purpose, we are neither militants nor criminals. But simply put, we are freedom fighters, and total freedom of the Niger Delta people is our goal. It is the Nigerian government and its leaders, past and present that are criminals, drug pushers, pen robbers, looters and money launderers.
“If we are criminals, what about you who climbed to power and greatness through the backs of the said alleged “criminals” armed agitation over long neglect and marginalization? Then, it is interesting that you are an accomplice, directly or indirectly of violent arms participation and beneficiary”, it said.
The group further stated, “No amount of blackmailing will deter our dogged fight against injustice. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo had called us criminals over our demand for equal distribution of oil wealth in Niger Delta whose blessings of oil and gas are being enjoyed over the decades by people from distant lands, leaving the Niger Delta oil bearing communities in abject poverty and polluted environment as a result of transnational oil activities in the region”.
“The OBJ’s utterances were not as painful as that of President Goodluck Jonathan who to the best of our knowledge is the highest beneficiary of the armed agitation of Niger- Delta youths over neglect and marginalization in the contraption called Nigeria. You knew how you became vice president in this country and eventually President with over 800 youths spilled their bloods and others maimed forever in the Niger Delta armed protracted struggle.
“Right now, while we are staying in the forest in the creeks, abandoning our rosy homes, family members, wives, children and loved ones, Mr. President who is a product of our armed agitation has the gut to call us unprintable names because he is enjoying in his air-conditioned rosy presidential homes in Aso Rock.
“What is the moral justification behind Mr. President’s utterances by calling us criminals and that we must be brought to book and slaughtered? Is it part of his PDP campaign strategies for 2011 general election to engender the hearts and sympathy of the oppressive North for votes?
Why must Mr. President trivialize fundamental issues of this magnitude of Niger -Delta question with which no genuine government could shy away under the cacophony of politics? Who are you trying to impress with eye service by incriminating and blackmailing our good names as that of the deceptive antics of a gigolo to a whore for a sex? Don’t use or combine the Niger Delta struggle with politics”, the militants said.
We’re ready for JTF
On its preparedness to continue with the oil war, which it had declared, it said, “The result of the last week’s JTF soldiers versus our NDLF soldiers’ gun battle in Delta State affirms our position as soldiers fighting against generational oppression and slavery with victory was on our side.
In war, it is God that grants victory and not your lethal weapons. It was like the Biblical war between Goliath and David. We must win the war against the Nigerian Pharaohs. This war otherwise, could be nicknamed “return of Moses from the burning bush” armed with the armor of God.
“Kindly take time to ask your JTF authorities very well what happened to your military troops you sent to slaughter us, so that you may know the real figure of those soldiers who are both wounded or death casualties through an independent panel with the medical personnel at Warri Central hospital so that it will enable you to reach out to all bereaved families to be adequately compensated”, militant group told President Jonathan.
“We extend our sincere condolence and sympathy to you and all bereaved families on both sides, especially their wives and children to bear the loss in good faith. It is a national disaster and embarrassment for soldiers to be defeated by civilians in a gun duel with fourteen gunboats versus untrained NDLF soldiers.
“Please, our brother and President send your soldiers out for sound foreign combatant and moral training to stand force for force with our soldiers, if not, we urge you to prepare a mass burial ground for them in our round two encounter. Make sure instruct your soldiers never to come by air or raid innocent and harmless villagers. Send only your grand force and we will puncture all their skulls”, it added.