PANIC IN BAYELSA, AS MILITANTS PLOT FRESH ATTACKS
There is panic in government circles in Bayelsa State over plans by aggrieved former militant leaders to cause instability in the state.
The ex-militant are said to be angry with Governor Timipre Sylva for allegedly abandoning them after surrendering their arms last October in a federal government amnesty/disarmament exercise.
According to sources, the ex-militant leaders are alleging discrimination by Sylva towards some of them after they embraced amnesty.
They are also aggrieved that the governor courted a few of their former colleagues namely Victor-Ben Ebikabowei, Joshua Maciver, Africa Ukparasia and Eris Paul aka Ogunboss, whom he allegedly accommodated at the VIP lodge of the Government House in Yenagoa while he ignored them.
Sunday Sun checks indicated that with the power tussle between Bayelsa politicians based in Abuja and Sylva about to reach the climax, speculations have been rife that some of the aggrieved ex-militant leaders have been contacted by unnamed politicians to instigate crisis in the state.
The plot was said to have been programmed for the bye-election into the Yenagoa constituency 11 seat of the Bayelsa House of Assembly before it was postponed. To nip the plot in the bud, chairman of the Niger Delta Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, Chief James Jephthan, held a meeting with about 19 ex-militant leaders and appealed to them not to succumb to pressure from politicians to provoke another round of crisis in the state.
Sources at the meeting said ex-militant leaders in attendance include Lagos Jackson (popularly known as Commander Lagos), Pastor Reuben (known as Commander Pastor), Commander Osei Clever, Abraham Igobire (aka Commander Lammy) and others.
The meeting was said to have discussed the recent alleged plot to cause crisis in Bayelsa by politicians using some of the ex-militant leaders. Jephthan reportedly seized the opportunity of the meeting to paint a different picture of Sylva to the ex-militant leaders, explaining that through the efforts of the governor in initiating the amnesty package, which was accepted by the late President Umaru Yar'Adua, Nigeria and other countries have benefited from the increase in the production oil and gas.
While disclosing activities to celebrate Bayelsa Peace Day, slated for August 22, which was declared by Sylva to remember the disarmament of ex-militants in the state, Jephthan urged the former insurgents to appreciate the governor's determination to secure peace in the state and the Niger Delta region, which he reasoned has contributed greatly in resolving Nigeria's energy problem.
He assured that during the first year celebration of the Bayelsa peace day, all ex-militant leaders would be duly recognised as partners in enthroning peace in the Niger Delta. Reviewing the peaceful atmosphere in the region for the past one year, Jephthan insisted that Sylva should be accorded his due respect as the saviour of the Nigerian nation.
'In the process of visiting some of these boys in a bid to resolve the Niger Delta conflict, the governor was made to sit on the floor and gun shots were pumped into the air as a form of salute. But he could have been shot. The governor has expended money to bring about amnesty and he has not laid claim to the programme,' Jephthan said, adding that that it was unfortunate executors of the programme have not appreciated Sylva's efforts in the amnesty exercise.
The ex-militant leaders, who took turns to speak, said they were aggrieved over being abandoned by Sylva, noting however that the meeting with Jephthan has reassured them of the good intentions of Sylva. Pastor Reuben, who later summarised the remarks of those present, explained that the utterances of some ex-militant leaders in the state and the rising pressure of politics has continued to promote division in their ranks. He however promised that they would join hands with the government to promote peace in the state.