By Emma Amaize & Akpokona Omafuaire
WARRI—MILITANTS under the coalition of Network of Niger Delta Republic Fighters, NNDRF, who threatened last month to declare a Republic of Niger Delta, June 1, allegedly made a strategic retreat, following a strong repudiation of the plan by traditional rulers, leaders and ex-agitators from the region.
Some of the traditional rulers from South-South region, who President Muhammadu Buhari summoned to a meeting in Abuja, May 27, to prevail on the boys to back down, returned home and sent messages through emissaries to leaders of the militants to retreat.
The Nigerian military acting on a tip off, however, still laid siege to communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, home town of ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State. Tompolo has been underground for about three years over his money laundering case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
However, the biggest threat to the declaration was the sturdy opposition by several agitating groups in the region, some of which threatened to lead security agencies to the perpetrators if they declared a Niger Delta Republic and go ahead to bomb oil facilities.
The 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience on May 25, publicly dissociated the group from NNDRF, saying the plot to declare Niger Delta Republic, June 1, would endanger the lives of the people and leaders of the region.
Despite the fact that NNDRF had aborted the plan, Commandant General, Riverine Security (Coast Guard of the Federation, Commander Bibi Oduku, met with ex-militant leaders across the Niger Delta at Apelebiri, Oduku’s hometown in Patani in Delta state, last weekend, to review the development.
It was learned that self-styled “General” Jetli led other ex-militants from the region to the meeting where they extensively discussed the issue of Niger Delta Republic.
A source, who attended the meeting, said, “The ex-militant leader, who headed the visiting team, ‘General Jetli said the people of Niger Delta were not ready to lose their sons and daughters because of personal interest and avoidable clash with the Federal Government over declaration of Niger Delta Republic.
“The ex-militant leader spoke on peace and their readiness to work with the Riverine Security to support government to end the activities of those campaigning for Niger Delta Republic.
“Another ex-militant leader, ‘General’ Super Oweikeme said the Niger Delta Republic campaign was already a threat to market women in the riverine areas because some groups used the medium to carry out illegality in there,” he said.
Speaking at the meeting, Commander Oduku said, “The Federal Government had already put security agencies on ground to apprehend any law breaker, while Riverine Security is working with the Nigeria Police, Army, Navy and other security agencies to nip the plan.
“We are working hard to fish out any group or groups funding and supporting the declaration of Niger Delta Republic and other criminal activities and I assure you that there will be peace in Niger Delta.”
Commander Bibi commended the ex-militants for their zeal to collaborate with Riverine Security, saying he would link them up with relevant security agencies in their areas for easy giving out of information.