WARRI—Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, said he was disappointed at the call by former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (ret), that former Niger Delta militants should be arrested and prosecuted for warning that there would be war if President Goodluck Jonathan loses the presidential election on February 14. He said that Danjuma should have condemned the attacks on Jonathan in several states in the North instead of calling for the arrest of the ex-militants.
Meanwhile, a former militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, was defiant as he accused Danjuma of sponsoring terrorism in the Northern part of the country and also called for his arrest and prosecution.
Similarly, leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo in his reaction, said he felt sorry for Danjuma for calling for his arrest and other Niger Delta activists.
Danjuma had Wednesday in Kano State, called for the immediate arrest of Asari, Tompolo and Boyloaf over alleged comments credited to them that there would be war should President Jonathan fail to win the February 14 poll.
Reacting also, former Provost-Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig. General Idada Ikponmwen(ret); Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku; Captain Beck Hitler, a prominent Chief of Gbaramatu and Ogulagha Kingdoms, Delta State; Urhobo Ovo and Ijaw Kene Patriots for Okowa; former National Chairman of the Association of Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, ATROMPCON, and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom in Delta State, HRM Charles Ayemi-Botu and Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, faulted Danjuma’s call, describing same as unfounded and based on misleading reports.
Chief Clark, while noting his respect for the former army chief, said it was unhelpful for Danjuma to condemn some and not others.
“I read with amazement and indignation, the statement made by Gen. Danjuma, a man I have so much respect for. I always believed that he is very straightforward and courageous and that he can speak to anybody on any issue. I was, therefore, surprised that young men like Asari Dokubo, Tompolo, Boyloaf who they call ex-militants should make statements and instead of him appealing to everybody who has been making such types of statements, he now said that some should be arrested?
“President Jonathan has always believed in one man, one vote and that nobody should die because of him. I went further to say that if it is true that Asari Dokubo and Kingsley Kuku said what was attributed to them, then confront them and not all of Ijaw people. I then went further to ask the speaker that he should be courageous enough to condemn similar statements made.”
Clark noted that a number of northern leaders including Alhaji Isa Kaita, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Dr. Junaid Mohammed and Ango Abdullahi in the past made threats against the peace and security of the country before the 2011 elections.
“And in the same vein, they said that they would make Nigeria ungovernable if Jonathan wins the 2011 elections. And they really caused mayhem. My nephew that I trained in the University of Calabar was among those Youth Corps members killed in Bauchi. Where was Gen. Danjuma then? So, why do you now condemn these people? So I think this type of condemnation is one-sided and does not speak well of somebody who believes in the unity of Nigeria.
“Recently, APC said they will set up a parallel government if they don’t win the election. What did Danjuma say? So, I feel very disappointed that he should direct his attention to these men who feel that after the attack on President Jonathan in Bauchi where his security men were wounded and he was attacked in Katsina, something should be done.
“Jonathan comes from somewhere and perhaps that is why these people made that statement and you remember Governor Lamido of Jigawa said that if anyone goes against Buhari, the northerners would regard him as an enemy. For some time now they have been campaigning, when Buhari went to Bayelsa State, he was given a red carpet treatment, and that is the home state of the President. It was the same in Port-Harcourt, the second home of the President. He (Buhari) campaigned throughout the South-South.
“So, why should Jonathan not have the same privilege? An he is the president of the country? Why should his posters not be pasted in the north? PDP governors cannot speak about Jonathan in their place? So, what kind of country do we belong to? Has Gen. Danjuma not been reading about those things?”
“I condemn any statement made by anybody threatening the stability of this country. I am not supporting if it is true that they made that statement, they didn’t make it on behalf of us, but Danjuma should be more straight-forward and I respect him because when he speaks, the nation will hear. He should not be biased. Nigeria is Nigeria, nobody is superior to the other, we are equals. If we belong to a country where only one part can make mistakes and it would be condemned, then it is not one country. So, I expect Danjuma to appeal to the northerners to allow Jonathan to campaign in every part of the north.”
Arrest him for sponsoring terrorism and attacks on Jonathan
Tompolo, who called for Danjuma’s arrest for allegedly sponsoring terrorism in the Northern part of the country in a statement by his media aide, Paul Bebenimibo, said: “The call by Danjuma for my arrest and other agitators for a better living condition for the people of the Niger Delta region is an indication that he is behind terrorism in the North Eastern part of the country.
He also did not condemn the attacks on the president in Bauchi.
“Is Gen. Danjuma not aware of the peaceful atmosphere when Gen Muhammadu Buhari visited Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states (home base of the President) for campaigns? Why was it that President Jonathan’s convoy was attacked in Kastina and Bauchi states without any provocation?
“Who is Gen. Danjuma if not for the oil wealth he is enjoying from the Niger Delta? He should rather be arrested for being behind terrorism in the North.
“Where was Danjuma when Mallam Adamu Ciroma threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable if Jonathan defeated the All Progressives Congress, APC presidential candidate, Buhari? Where was this so-called statesman when the APC campaign Director-General, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, threatened to form a parallel government if President Jonathan wins the 2015 elections? Where was he when Dr. Junaid Muhammed, Buhari and Atiku Abubakar all said in separate interviews that the nation will boil if Jonathan won the election in 2011?
“Gen. Danjuma should be reminded that the devilish treaty that brought the Southern and Northern Protectorates together in 1914, expired last year. Danjuma and his likes should be grateful to President Jonathan, who has been keeping this country together.
“If not for President Jonathan, there would not be a Nigeria any more. Danjuma and his cohorts should be reminded of the saying that ‘those who live in glass house should not throw stones. Is it the interest of Nigeria that Gen. Danjuma is protecting or his oil bloc in the Niger Delta?”
I am sorry for Danjuma—Asari-Dokubo
On his part, Asari Dokubo said he felt sorry for Danjuma for calling for his (Dokubo) arrest and other Niger Delta activists.
In a telephone chat with Vanguard, Asari who said he would in due course fully reply Danjuma reiterated his stand that President Jonathan would win the election.
Giving what he termed as the last warning, Asari restated that Niger Delta would return any attack on the President.
“Goodluck has already won the election. If they continue with the attacks on Goodluck Jonathan, we will respond disproportionately. This is the last warning. For the General, I feel sorry for him.
“What was his salary throughout his period in the army? How did he acquire the wealth that he has acquired? How did he get the oil concession from a piece of paper? How did he get it if not through the manipulation of the Nigerian state? He wants to maintain his wealth. One day, they will answer for their crimes,” Asari said.
It was peace meeting—Kuku
Mr. Kingsley Kuku, who spoke in Abuja at an interactive forum with a cross section of Nigerian youths on how to end insurgency in the North East, said Danjuma misfired by calling for the arrest of the Niger Delta activists.
The presidential aide pointed out that far from what the former minister reportedly said, the former militant leaders were summoned to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State to explore the possibility of dousing raging tension over the alleged attack on Jonathan in Katsina and Bauchi states.
Kuku said that Danjuma should have sought clarification from him or his office rather than go to the media to call for the arrest of Tompolo, Dokubo and other ex-militants for what they did not advocate.
He explained that the meeting, which was hosted by the Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, was meant to calm the agitated Niger Delta youths, who had prepared to retaliate the stoning of their kinsman, Jonathan, in the North.
Gen. Idada- Ikponmwen, others react
Brig. General Idada Ikponmwen, disagreed with Danjuma, saying that they should be warned on the implications of their statements rather than calling for their arrest.
According to him, “the truth is that the use of threatening words has become almost part of our political system, it is not the best. The way I look at it, we are in a battle because politics in Nigeria is a battle; it is a battle of wits; a battle for resources; it has been the situation.”
Also, Captain Beck Hitler, a prominent Chief of Gbaramatu and Ogulagha kingdoms, faulted the call for the arrests, saying it was quite unfortunate that the call was made by General Danjuma, who didn’t call for the arrest of Buhari, APC presidential candidate who issued similar threats in 2011.
The Ijaw chief also said it was wrong for Danjuma to have described Tompolo, Asari Dokubo and other ex-militants as irresponsible individuals, adding they have contributed immensely to the development of Niger Delta region.
A group, Urhobo Ovo and Ijaw Kene Patriots for Okowa, faulted Danjuma’s call, saying: “We see the call made by Danjuma to arrest Tompolo and others as clear oppression and a hidden agenda to deny President Jonathan victory on February 14. The people of Niger Delta are strongly supporting President Jonathan’s re-election.”
His Royal Majesty Charles Ayemi-Botu, on his part, said: “It is clear that Tompolo, Asari Dokubo, Boyloaf and others did not actually threaten war or say they would destabilize the country if Jonathan did not win the February 14 presidential election; they only expressed dismay at the attack and stoning of Mr. President, who is from Niger-Delta during his campaigns in the Northern part of the country.”
The Ijaw Youth Council, spokesman, Mr. Eric Omare, said: “The accusation leveled against Jonathan by the APC, is also unfounded.”
He said it was not true as alleged that President Jonathan was backing Tompolo, Dokubo, Boyloaf and others in purported threats to destabilize Nigeria as alleged by APC.
He pointed out that IYC participated in the meeting by the governor of Bayelsa State, Dickson with youth leaders and ex-Niger –Delta freedom fighters on January 23.
“There was no time it was resolved that Niger Delta people would destabilize Nigeria if President Jonathan fails the February 14, 2015 Presidential election. This did not form part of the resolutions of the meeting which were read out by Hon. Kingsley Kuku for Governor Dickson to transmit to Mr. President.
“The report on ex-militants threatening to destabilize Nigeria in the event of President Jonathan losing the 2015 election is a figment of the imagination of the writers and not part of the resolution of the meeting. The meeting could not have discussed that as we are confident that President Jonathan would win the February 14, 2015 Presidential election,” he added.