- Tomorrow’s meeting is the first time all the former commanders and leaders of the militant group are meeting formally since it was disbanded in 2009
There was palpable tension on Thursday in the nine Niger Delta states following the decision by the foremost ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, to summon a meeting of ex-militant generals in Bayelsa State under the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta group (MEND). The summons, which was issued as a statement by spokesperson Paul Bebeminibo and signed by Mr. Ekpemupolo, stated that the meeting was fixed for Saturday, July 25.
Mr. Ekpemupolo, who is a close confidant to the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, recently had his multimillion-naira contract with the Nigerian Maritime Authority cancelled by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
An ex-militant general who was a member of the MEND told newsmen under the condition of anonymity that the meeting may deliberate on the revival of the group, which was dissolved during the administration of former President Jonathan. Though the ex-militant generals are closely guarding the agenda of the meeting, they are also likely slated to discuss the potential for the present administration under Muhammadu Buhari to probe, arrest, and jail former President Jonathan, as well as the current president’s failure to address the outstanding payments of the Amnesty Programme, which is behind about three months in the payment of allowances and scholarships to ex-militants.
“We are not meeting to declare war,” the ex-militant source said. “But the meeting will carefully discuss issues of interest as it affects the Niger Delta region.
“Since the assumption of power by President Buhari, there are signs of tension due to the administration’s perceived animosity [toward] the region… We cannot fold our hands and let the boys be provoked into violence.”
Vanguard text replaced with Sahara text