WHY WE BLOCKED EAST- WEST ROAD - EX-MILITANT LEADER
On September 6, 2011, fear mixed with panic enveloped Mbiama and its environs as ex-militants under the aegis of Niger Delta Development ex-militants phase two extension, barricaded the East- West road halting human and vehicular movement for eight hours.
The brain behind the plot, Julius Joseph in an interview disclosed that the action to barricade the East- West road was taken to get the attention of President Jonathan so that he can listen to their pleas for inclusion into the amnesty programme.
I am General Julius Joseph, national chairman, Amnesty Phase Two extension for repentant ex-militants. In line with the Federal Government amnesty programme, which was advertised in the media, we decided to drop our guns. We have dropped our guns for the past nine months with no sign that we would be enlisted in the amnesty programme. We dropped our arms to ensure that peace reign in the Niger Delta because without peace, there will be no meaningful development in the country.
We came out of the creeks because we saw the genuine aim and objective of the Yar' Adua/Jonathan-led government to meaningfully develop and reduce crime in the region and bring about positive political and economic change.
However, since we dropped our arms and received acknowledgment from the Joint Task Force, Sector 2, in Bayelsa, nothing positive has been done to alleviate our suffering. They say an idle mind is the Devil's workshop. My followers and foot soldiers have been worried that there is no positive response from the FG. We have been redundant with nothing to do for a living, thus some of us are nursing to go back to the creeks. My commanders in the struggle have been agitating about the delay in implementing the second phase extension.
But I have been calming them down to stay action because President Goodluck Jonathan is a man with human feeling who would attend to our problem at the right time. To ensure that things did not get out of hand, I travelled to Abuja to see the Special Adviser, Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Kingsley Kuku, who is also the chairman of the amnesty committee. The four times I went there, they sent me out without listening to me or even giving me a chance to explain myself. At one time, they left us standing outside the gate and sent emissaries to tell us they were not around.
The East- West road barricade
We have been physically intimated in our attempt to seek ways to dialogue on the way forward. Each time I come back from Abuja, my followers expect results which are not forthcoming. Frustrated by the actions of the officials in Abuja, we the chairmen of the respective state chapters sat down to take a decision on the way forward because every move for a peaceful dialogue was not making the desired impact. This was why we decided to barricade the Bayelsa section of the East- West road to show our grievances and get the attention of Mr. President. We believe that some officials in the ministry in Abuja are playing pranks with the peace process which the late President Umaru Musa Yar' Adua successfully put in place.
Why the FG must listen
Those in charge of the amnesty programme deliberately refused to answer us when we approached them peacefully on the way forward. Lack of positive feedback from those in charge of the program was part of the problem. If they insist there is no third batch, then they should include us in the second batch extension, because the foot soldiers are seeing the delay as a deliberate plan by the FG to betray a genuine trust they have started. Honestly we don't know why they have refused to include us. But I will like to advise the Federal Government to recognize us because we the real foot soldiers in the struggle, we were initially skeptical about the amnesty programme but now we are coming out.
None of us is an impostor, everybody you see protesting has been part of the struggle.
Protest turned sour
I was at the Bayelsa entrance of the toll gate when I was informed on phone that some of my boys have been injured. I was told that 10 were shot but when I got there, only three of them were seriously wounded and I am not happy about it. This is because we are doing a peaceful demonstration with our placards, so the issue of opening fire on unarmed youths was uncalled for. Somehow they realized their mistake and we are working together now.
People like Tompolo, Joshua, Africa, Boyloaf, Pastor etc are leaders that have deep and sincere commitment to the struggle. We believe and respect them. Though it is the President that can approve anything but they also have a role to play for us.