Top ex-militants join hunt for bomb suspects

THE PUNCH Newspaper

Ex-militants in the Niger Delta have joined in the search for persons suspected to have carried out Friday‘s bomb attacks in Abuja.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta had claimed responsibility for the act. But President Goodluck Jonathan debunked the claim, saying it was carried out by terrorists, whom he did not name.

THE PUNCH learnt that the ex-militants were contacted by security officials shortly after the attacks to assist in locating the suspected bombers. Some ex-militants told THE PUNCH on Sunday that security agents were working on information that the attack was planned in Rivers State.

A former commander of one militant groups, who spoke to one of our correspondents alleged that the attacks were sponsored by a former top Niger Delta militant leader who is based in the country.

He alleged that the ex-militant leader provided the money and equipment for the attacks, adding that the attackers assembled in Port Harcourt, before travelling to Abuja by road for the assignment.

They also said security agents were looking for two ex-militants, Chima Orlu and Ben Jessey, believed to have carried out the attacks.

When contacted, a former MEND commander, Farah Dagogo, told THE PUNCH on the telephone that he was not aware if it was carried out by the group, since he had renounced violence.

He confirmed that ex-militants in Rivers State were helping in the investigation of the attacks. Dagogo also condemned the attacks, describing it as “an act of wicked desperation. We will make sure we fish out the perpetrators and hand them over to security agents.”

A former militant leader, Asari Dokubo, has, however, denied involvement in the blasts.

In a response to questions sent to him via Facebook, the former leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force said any attempt to link him to the blasts amounted to ‘cheap blackmail.’

He also said he was one of the first persons to condemn it, adding that he had no link to MEND or its former leader, Mr. Henry Okah, who has been arrested in Johannesburg, South Africa over the attacks.

Asari-Dokubo also said he was not in hiding, as the State Security Service knew he was living in Abuja.

Dokubo stated that MEND regarded him as “their greatest enemy and threat to their criminal empire. Was I the one who posted it on their website and claimed responsibility for it?”

The President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Mr. Abiye Kuromiema, also told THE PUNCH on the telephone that Ijaw youths would join the manhunt for the perpetrators.

He said, “I can confirm to you that we are having a meeting on this issue. All the ex-militants will go after them and they will get all of them. They will hold a meeting on it on Monday and all those boys will be fished out.”

Meanwhile, top ex-militants are expected to visit victims of the blasts in various hospitals in Abuja.

A statement from the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe, and signed by his Media aide, Mr. Henry Ugbolue said the visit was to emphathise with the victims.

Those expected in Abuja are, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), Mr. Victor Ben (Boyloaf), Chief Ateke Tom, Fara Dagogo, John Togo, Gen. Shoot Asight, Pastor Reuben, Gen Eziekel, Gen. Joshua Miccaival, Bonney Gawei, Gen. Aboy, Gen. Ogunbos, and Gen. Africa.

Alaibe, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Amnesty Programme, reaffirmed “the resounding success of the amnesty offer” as peace and security had returned in the once volatile Niger Delta region.

The statement read, “To underscore the end of militancy in the Niger Delta and to commemorate one year of Amnesty Proclamation, all the leaders of former militia groups will tomorrow, Monday 4th of October converge in Abuja to among other things publicly denounce the recent bombings in the nation‘s capital and visit the wounded victims of the bomb blasts who are currently recuperating in different hospitals in Abuja.

“The former militia leaders will also visit the site of the dastardly bombings where they will repudiate the action.

“Having disarmed and embraced the offer of amnesty from the Federal Government a year ago, the leaders of the former militant groups in the Niger Delta have since registered their disgust at the Abuja bombings and are poised to use the opportunity of the commemoration of one year of amnesty proclamation to debunk the insinuation that agitators in the Niger Delta were involved.

“Following the resounding success of the presidential amnesty programme, Nigeria‘s crude oil production has risen from an all time low of 700,000 barrels per day to 2.3 million barrels per day; incidences of kidnapping in the core Niger Delta States have stopped; illegal oil bunkering drastically reduced; construction work on critical infrastructures like the east-west road resumed and now being fast-tracked.”

About 20,192 ex-militants are now being rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society, having surrendered their weapons to government.

Currently, 5,533 ex-militants have so far undergone non-violence training and are now being posted to skill acquisition centers across the country and abroad.


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