September 25, 2016

Ex-militant leader accuses JTF Cmdr of secret detention


By Innocent Onoja

Mr. Kingsley Muturu is Delta State Chairman of ex-militants under the Phase 2 of the Amnesty Programme. In this interview, he shares alleged experience of harassment in the hands of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in Niger Delta. He also condemns the arrest and secret detention of another ex-militant leader, Mr Francis Muturu, aka  ‘General Aboy’, as well as calls on the Minister of Defence, the Inspector-General of Police, Director of SSS and others to intervene in the matter.

The detention of ex-militant leader, Mr. Francis Muturu, by the 222 Battalion of the JTF has raised concerns in your area. What is the current position?

I really don’t know the offence he committed but I can categorically say it was a premeditated plan by Capt. Robert, a former Commander of 222 Battalion, Bomadi Division, Delta State.

Are you sure of this allegation?

Let me tell you what happened to me before this current episode.  Francis is my younger brother. Some time ago, I proposed to organize a protest in Bomadi, my home town, because there was electricity blackout in the area for years. So,   I informed the authorities including the JTF. When I called their Commander at Bomadi, Capt Robert, to inform him of my proposed protest, he said I should  visit his office. On getting to his office, he argued that I didn’t have the right to carry out any protest. But, I emphasised that I had that right like any other citizen of a civilised society.  He took offence and started to rough-handle me and threw me into detention together with my driver and my secretary. We were there for over three hours and they brought us out handcuffed like common criminals; pushed us into the back of their van and took us to Agbara-Otor where we were detained for three days with our phones seized. It was my wife who, after she had got wind of it, informed a prominent politician in our community who came to my rescue.

We were released from detention around 11 pm and, when I was about going, the military Commander said to me that I should thank my God and tell my brother Francis that he was the next target and that whenever he was caught, he would not see the sky. I did relay the message to Francis when I got home. But Francis said he never offended the commander.

Have you taken any step to find out what the matter is?

I do not have any problem with them but they said their main target was Francis and if he had come to my rescue,   they would have detained him then. Not only that, our elder brother, Mr Stephen Muturu, who is community Chairman of Bomadi town, is also on their target list.

Exactly the reason I asked if any of you had tried to find out what the problem is.

That is why I am pleading that Capt. Robert should tell the world the offence of the Muturu family either against him or against anybody else, which is unknown to us. As I am speaking to you, I don’t know the whereabouts of Francis, we don’t know if he is dead or alive and if he is dead, let Capt Robert bring his corpse to us so that we can bury him properly.

I want to affirm that Francis does not involve himself in any form of insurgency since after the disarmament in 2009. I believe his secret detention has some personal inclination and is premeditated and should be unlawful in a democratic society like ours. It was not a surprise to me when they transferred Capt. Robert from Bomadi after the night operation to arrest Francis. They even returned to photograph his residence, some days after his arrest and detention.

What is your next step now on the issue?

I am calling on the Defense Minister, Inspector-General of Police, The Director of SSS and others to  intervene and find out the truth about Francis. This harassment and intimidation is too much for our family, and it is not helping matters as it relates to peace in our area. Capt. Robert and his collaborators should leave the Muturu family alone and set Francis free from their custody.