‘Fulani Jihadists’ give Okowa 72-hour ultimatum over ban on open grazing
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta ZState

•Life of Citizen Obinobe who helped Police discover explosives threatened

•Jihadists trail him, family

•Militants, others threaten reprisal if … 

•Miscreants just wanted to create panic – Ali, Compol, Delta

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

THE blueprint of Fulani jihadists, who glued warning notelets at some tactical locations in Asaba, capital of Delta State, last Sunday, handing the Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, a 72-hour ultimatum to renounce his support for the ban on open grazing of cattle in southern states of the country, was to inflict supreme pain on the governor.

Governors of 17 states in the  South-South, South-East and South-South regions, May 11, ratified the ban on open grazing. Okowa became a target for hosting the meeting and persistently hammering on the ban in succeeding days.  

They knew that one of the precious projects to Governor Okowa is the new N13 billion ultra-modern Central Secretariat Complex on Olorogun Ibru Secretariat Road, Asaba, which is almost completed and planned to blow it up to send a strong signal to him.  

The jihadists almost succeeded in their wicked plot as they, indeed, planted explosives in the Secretariat complex, May 5,  awaiting detonation,  six days before Southern governors’ May 11 meeting in Asaba.

But a loyal citizen of the state, Mr. Major Obinobe, returning from  where he went to watch football match,  saw them in the dark of the night, suspected their mission, and reported to policeman he ran into at a checkpoint on his way to Delta State Police Command headquarters in Asaba, who hesitantly followed him to the scene and discovered the explosive device.

It was after the plan A failed that the jihadists conceived their plan B, which was an unsigned three-paragraph intimidation letter to Governor Okowa and people of the state , entitled “Fulani Jihadist Warnings” that they gummed at the Living Faith Bible Church (aka Winners Chapel), Infant Jesus Road, Asaba and other strategic locations, June 13, threatening to attack the state capital, Asaba and Agbor, headquarters of Ika South Local Government Area, if the governor did not atone of his “sin” in 72 hours, that is Thursday, two days ago.

3-paragraph effrontery

Without even knowing the conspiracies that built up to the June 13 notice, Deltans are enraged at the sheer impudence of Fulani jihadists summoning guts to threaten their governor and the people.

The letter read:  ”This is to inform Delta state that the Fulani of Usman Dan Fodio leadership shall do everything it can to uphold the legacy of our heritage of open grazing, for we are nomadic people from origination and shall never negotiate the ownership of Nigeria and West Africa and Sub-Sahara.

 ”We hereby demand the Governor of Delta state to immediately withdraw his early stand for the call to ban open grazing in 17 regions (states) in not less than 72hours from the above date and also, withdraw his position as the leading voice for the governors, as no occurrence we don’t have the first-hand information, (sic) even before the hosting of the South-south, South-East and South-South governors meeting in Asaba.

“Failure to adhere to this demand for been the host of the 17 governors, Delta state, most likely the city of Asaba and Agbor, shall encounter severe consequences than that of Bornu, Kebbi, Kastina, Kaduna, Enugu, Benue, Oyo and many more that will not respect the Fulani’s heritage, as we take responsibility for the detonated explosive uncovered in the state capital secretariat, which should serve as warning to the Delta state government for what is to come, should the governor fail to abide by our demand.

 ”We highly advice all Fulani and Northerners, including the security personnel to live (sic) Delta state as soon as possible for the wind of our action is now present in the land for failure of the governor to adhere to our call, this shall live (sic) us with no choice.”

Kill 1 Deltan, we hit back with 10 Fulanis — Militants

 But for the call for restraint, reactions from incensed Deltans, some militants and ethnic groups were that the jihadists should bring it on and see what would happen to Fulani people in the state.

 Movement for the Emancipation and Defence of Niger-Delta, MEDN, a militant group perceptibly different from the popular Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, in a statement by Dragon War, stated in a counter warning to the jihadists: “The attention of ‘The Movement for the Emancipation and the Defence of the Niger Delta’ has been brought to the threat of some Fulani terrorists who have given a 3- day warning to the Governor of Delta State because of his support for the ban of open grazing across the southern state.

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 ”We also saw your taking responsibility for planting explosives at the Secretariat in Asaba. We are warning that if your threat is made to come to fulfillment, no Fulani will ever exist across the Niger Delta and all oil facilities linked to a Fulani will be brought down.

“If one soul is lost, ten Fulani souls will pay for it. If one facility is destroyed, ten Fulani facilities will be destroyed. We will respond proportionately ten times whatever you give, the corresponding response will not be limited to the Delta, it may be with your politicians or with your rulers.

 ”We will launch three rocket launchers and ballistic missiles at any facility of our choice as a warning in seven days if you make bold your threats. We don’t make cheap our threats. We have shut down the country and we can at any time shut you down.

“We are the Niger Delta, We stand for the interest of the Niger Delta and we will not allow any coward threaten us. We fight without running. Be warned,” the group added.

 Similarly, the Coalition of Urhobo Ex-Militant Leaders, CUEL, issued a three-day ultimatum to criminal Fulani herdsmen to leave Delta Central senatorial district. CUEL in a statement, Tuesday, at Ughelli, by chairman of the group, self-styled “General” H.M. Ebirie, declared: “We hereby categorically advise all Fulani herdsmen to leave Delta Central now.

“In fact, we are advising them to leave Delta state because we can no longer tolerate their killing, maiming, threat and the untold evil done to our people.

 ”We give them three days ultimatum to do so and failure to heed to our warning will result to the unimaginable. We will comb all our forests and do that which we know how to do best, and we will use their cows as bush meat”.

Call jihadists to order — Clark

Leader of Pan Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Chairman, Southern and Middles Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, Senator Edwin Clark, urged the Federal Government to warn the so-called Fulani jihadists from provoking the Niger Deltans into taking action that will affect the entire country economically and politically.

He said: “We have watched with restrained patience, the reckless and irresponsible utterances of the so-called Fulani jihadists and the Miyetti Allah, who believe that they own Nigeria from the North to the sea, and therefore, have the impunity to warn the state governments, particularly the Delta state government and governor to withdraw, within 72 hours, his decision against open grazing, recently taken by the 17 Governors of the South, in a meeting held in Asaba.”

“We have decided to issue this advice and warning to the Federal Government and the Fulani jihadists that the people of the Niger Delta will resist in such a way that will make it definitely impossible for the federal government security forces to cope with, should this action escalate.

“We are reacting because this is not the first time Fulanis and their collaborators have insulted our people. It will be remembered that sometime in 2009, a legislator from Kebbi state in the National Assembly asked the federal government to resettle the people of the Niger Delta in another territory to create a conducive and unhindered atmosphere for the oil companies to operate.

“That we warn, the resulting consequences will be very unpleasant to them. The federal government has continuously condoned them and behaving as if the Federal Government is the one giving support to these Fulani Jihadists and the Miyetti Allah because what is happening today in Nigeria, which has resulted in unprecedented insecurity and bad governance in Nigeria, will be worse, if they are not called to order by the Federal Government within the shortest time possible,” the elder statesman said.

UYLA, IPDI, others fume

On its part, Urhobo Youth Leaders’ Association, UYLA, an Urhobo youth body, issued a 48- hour quit notice to all Fulani jihadists to immediately stop open grazing and take away their cattle from the Delta Central Senatorial district of the state.

 Simmering with anger, Acting President, Chief Anthony Ofoni, in a statement issued after an emergency Executive Committee meeting at Otor- Udu, Udu Local Government Area, condemned the threat letter to Okowa, called on Urhobo youths in the 24 kingdoms and other ethnic youth groups in Delta State to mobilize into the farmlands after the expiration of the ultimatum and evict the herdsmen.

 ”This is to inform the Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership that after 48 hours, open grazing of cattle by nomadic people will be forbidden in Delta Central senatorial district.

“The safety of herdsmen and their cattle still in the region after the expiration of the notice will no longer be guaranteed because they have sacked some of our communities in Uwheru and killed many Abraka farmers and we viewed the threat as a big insult on all Deltans,” he asserted.

 Also boiling with anger, National President of Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, a rights group, Mr. Austin Ozobo, said Fulani natives should be evacuated from Delta and other states of southern Nigeria if jihadists go ahead as threatened to attack Asaba, Agbor or any part of southern Nigeria.

 ”It has come to our notice the unfounded, mischievous and inimical jihadists’ threat on our state. It is our directive that every Fulani resident in Delta and South-South be evacuated from all communities in Delta and other southern states and in the event of any suspected attack in the region, the resident Fulanis be held responsible.

 ”We want to admonish the governor of Delta state, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa , not to be deterred by the Fulani jihadists’ threat to invade the state failure to reverse the ban on open-grazing in 72hours,  which is a collective decision taken by southern governors of Nigeria in Asaba, Delta state.

“As people of Delta and Niger Delta at large, we will no longer condone any jihadists’ attack and that any attempted attack will be resisted with equal force,” he said.

Delta Fulani leaders renounce jihadists

However, 24 hours after the threat, leadership of Fulani community in the state, disowned the jihadists, saying their people were not responsible for the threat letter purportedly issued by the dissenters.

 The Fulani leaders, who addressed newsmen in Asaba, said they were scared since the letter went into circulation on Sunday, acknowledging that they have been living in peace with their host.

Those who spoke on behalf of the Fulani leaders included Muktar Usman, Musa Mohammed, Haruna Abubakar, Useni Haruna, among others. The Sariki Delta, Alhaji Musa Mohammed, said they have being in Delta for over 40 years, maintaining that they knew nothing about the publication.

 ”This is our home and we cannot create problems for the state because this is where we earn a living. Government should bring those people who did that publication. We are very peace-loving and Delta has been good to us,” he asserted.

 Mr. Muktar Usman, who is also serving in the Delta State Government as Senior Special Assistant to Governor Okowa on Special Duties, expressed disappointment in the anonymous publication, saying:  “We are not part and parcel of that nonsense, and we condemn this act in all ramifications.

“We are Nigerians and we have a good understanding with our host communities. We are at peace with our host communities.”

 ”We are calling on the state government and security agencies to fish out those behind it. We are more accepted in Delta than in our own states of origin. I want to encourage our people to remain peace loving and not create unnecessary tension.

 Alhaji Haruna Abubakar, Useni Haruna and others who also spoke in the same vein, said they have no reason to attack their host.

 From the time when suspected herders were discovered to be involved in the frequent kidnappings in the state though with the support of some criminally-minded Deltans in some instances, especially at Okpanam community, the leadership of Fulani in the state, had always distanced themselves from their kinsmen involved in the act.

 Their catchphrase was that some of the alleged persons purported to be Fulani indigenes were criminals, who they had no control over.

Go about your lawful business – Police

Reacting to the threat letter, the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ari Mohammed Ali, in a statement by the acting Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Bright Edafe, said: “The attention of the Command has been drawn to a recent publication making rounds purportedly published by the Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership tagged ‘Fulani Jihadist Warnings’ and pasted in various locations round Asaba and Agbor to be precise.”

 ”The command under the watch of CP Ari Muhammed Ali, who is ever committed in its responsibility of providing security for all Deltans, is assuring members of the public to ignore the said publication, which must have been pasted by miscreants with the aim of creating panic in the state.

“All modalities have been put in place to forestall any of such occurrence, all residents are advice to go about their lawful businesses without fear or panic.

“Undercover police operatives have been deployed across the state for the purpose of gathering intelligence. Other proactive measures have been put in place by the command. Members of the public are also urged to continue to partner with the police, by providing useful information that will help in policing the state,” Police said.

Commissioner Ali described the authors of the letter as miscreants, who just wanted to create panic.

Jihadists trail Obinobe, wife, children

But, facts on ground indicate otherwise, every observant resident of Asaba, especially at parts of the Government Reservation Area, GRA, would know that it was a calculated plot and there has been an unrestricted influx of persons from the northern parts of the country to the state capital for more than one year, and the fear of inhabitants is that “these people will strike one day.”

On Sunday, June 13, when the jihadists glued threat letters, police were caught unawares, as some of jihadists even kept surveillance at the residence of Obinobe, the patriotic citizen, who tipped off the police on the explosive planted at the new Central Secretariat Complex still under construction at Asaba, which they had wanted to blow up. Their intent was to eliminate him.

How they got contact address remains a mystery to fleeing Obinobe, who knew that he gave his contact address and vehicle number to police officers that inquisitively demanded for them despite his hunch to decline.

Obinobe, who is supposed to receive a whole-hearted handshake from Governor Okowa and Police for his vigilance that thwarted the target May 5 explosion at the Secretariat is on the run with his wife and children, following the manhunt for him and family members by the jihadists.

He has beckoned on the Inspector General of Police, Governor Okowa and Commissioner Ali, who assured him and other Deltans of their safety, to save his life and that of his family currently under severe threat.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that on May 6, Obinobe was invited by the Commissioner of Police, Delta state through the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who listened to his story and the version of his men that accompanied him to the scene and thanked him for his courageous act.

Why I fled Asaba — Obinobe

But Obinobe disclosed: ”Since after passing the information to the security agents, I have been experiencing a strange vehicle trailing my car hence I parked and hid it from where it will not be seen and used by me and my family.

“My family is aware of this strange black Toyota car trailing my car and this has brought anxiety and danger to my life, and consequently, I decided to be taking alternative road to be entering and exiting my house.”

 ”The last threat that made me to leave Asaba was on Sunday (June 13) morning, when I observed the presence of two strange persons in our Close, apparently waiting for me to come out from the compound and go Church.

“However, on noticing them from the upstairs apartment, I decided not to go to church or step out of my house that Sunday, and they waited for hours before they left disappointingly.

 ”All I know about this situation is that I gave my statement to the Investigation Police Officer, IPO, after passing the information to them, who also took my car registration number. And I have called to inform the police superintendent about my ordeal and that I am going to make it public for fear of my life,” he said.

 On how he aided the police to forestall the explosion, last month, he said: “I alerted the security agency with information that led to the bursting of the explosive device that was found behind the states newly built Secretariat by Mariam Babangida axis.”

 ”Sometime in May, specifically the night Chelsea and Real Madrid played Champions League qualifying match, I was returning from a viewing center after the match and saw someone standing on top of the fence behind the newly built Delta State Secretariat building.

 ”Approaching closer while still driving, I saw a parked tricycle having curtain on it and being in a dark environment due to power blackout, I felt something strange and quickly remember the police call for ‘if you see something, say something.’

 ”I quickly turned back and decided to drive to the Police Headquarters, Asaba since it is close to the secretariat. But on my way, I ran into Police check point and reported the incident to the police men on duty.

 ”Initially the policemen were reluctant to go, but I volunteered to take them to the place with my Jeep and we all went there and the police discovered some strange objects that had a written word, detonate. I eventually took them back to the check point.

 ”They, however, thanked me and when I wanted to leave, they asked me to give them my phone number that their boss will like to thank me because I have saved them from embarrassment and I obliged them with my phone number and left. I later got a text message from the police that night that the objects were confirmed to be explosives.

 ”Few days after the incident, the police from state headquarters called me to come and meet with their boss, I went and they told me to make statement on the incident and I did.

 ”After a week later, I started experiencing this strange car trailing my car and now seeing two strange persons in my Close Avenue hanging from 6.30 am to 8.00 am and I refused to go out for fear of my life and I have been wondering if I did anything wrong.

 ”I am, therefore, appealing once again to the IGP, the state governor and the state Commissioner of Police to come to my rescue because my life is under serious threat.

 ”I equally appeal to the Department of State Services, DSS, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the Nigerian Bar Association and Human Right Organizations to come to my help because nobody knows who would have been the victim of the explosive device if it was not discovered by the police and was allowed to explode,” he said.

 Obinobe’s wife, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on phone, said she was scared, disclosing that a Toyota Camry car pursued her and the children on one occasion, but they managed able to escape.

Rants of faceless individual – DSP Edafe

DSP Edafe, who responded to Obinobe’s claim told Saturday Vanguard.  when contacted: “That person, whoever he is just telling lies and saying whatever he likes, there is PPRO in the Command, there is a Commissioner of Police in the Command, he has not come to say, this is what happened.

“He just went to the internet, I do not want to assume but if he is sincere with his statement, he should come to me, I will take him to the Commissioner of Police instead of going to the internet and talking rubbish.”

He has not reported the incident to any police station, a journalist had called and asked me the same question you are asking and it is not right for us to be hearing these things from the social media.

DSP Edafe added: “As far as I am concerned, that person (Obinobe) is faceless, I cannot comment on faceless individual, I have to see him, he has to report officially before anything can be said or done about it unless he had reported and I am not aware.”

At this point, Vanguard reminded him that the Obinobe said he had even met with the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who took him to the Commissioner of Police over the matter, DSP Edafe said: “Okay, I am not aware, I will confirm from the Commissioner of Police.”

Commissioner of Police, Ali, neither picked nor returned the several calls, Wednesday, to his line  by Saturday Vanguard even after one of our editors sent him a text message,  identifying himself.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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