Daily Trust (Abuja)

6 May 2013

Nigeria: Dokubo - No Peace if Jonathan Loses 2015

Photo: Vanguard
Niger Delta militants.

Niger Delta militants will take up arms again and throw the country into chaos if President Jonathan is not re-elected for a second term in 2015, former militant leader Mujahid Asari Dokubo has said.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja at the weekend, Dokubo, who led an arms struggle against the Federal Government for years in the past, said the peace in the Niger Delta at present is because Jonathan is president and that chaos will return if he is denied re-election.

"The day Goodluck is no longer the President all of us who are on sabbatical will come back. There will be no peace not only in the Niger Delta but everywhere. If they say it is an empty boast let them wait and see," said Dokubo, who as leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) coordinated a campaign of violence in the oil producing areas.

Militant activities disrupted oil production in the Niger Delta for years until a Federal Government amnesty programme was instituted in 2009 by then-President Umaru Yar'Adua. Of recent, Nigeria's oil production is falling again because of large-scale crude theft.

Dokubo, who is also former President of the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), said the relative peace in the Niger Delta is because Jonathan is president and not because of the amnesty programme, which he said he had rejected because he committed no crime.

He said Jonathan has performed better than previous governments, and that he is holding the post of president for the Niger Delta region which should have an uninterrupted eight years before power would shift to another zone.

Dokubo also said he was opposed to the reported plans by the Senate to introduce a six-year single term for president and preclude Jonathan from running in 2015.

On the feud between President Jonathan and Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, Dokubo described the governor as a traitor who has chosen to return the people of the region to years of slavery.

Dokubo spoke just a week after President Jonathan's adviser on amnesty, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, was reported to have said in the United States that chaos would set in unless Jonathan is re-elected.

He said he was reiterating Kuku's prediction of "dire consequences" should the President fail to be re-elected in 2015.

Dokubo's latest stance on Jonathan is a departure from his comments in December when he criticised the president for allowing "greedy" and "corrupt" people to hijack his government. Dokubo had said Jonathan will not win re-election unless he got rid of those people, but none of them has been removed from the government yet.

"The President has allowed himself to be imprisoned by some greedy individuals. His goodwill will soon go and that will affect his second term chances," he had said.

The story of Dokubo

Last August, American newspaper Wall Street Journal reported that Dokubo was one of the beneficiaries of multi-billion naira oil pipeline protection contracts, for which the Federal Government is paying him N1.44 billion a year.

While not all of his account of life in the mangrove swamps could be verified, 49-year-old Dokubo was one of Nigeria's best-known oil marauders.

About 26 years ago, the Journal said, Dokubo went to study guerrilla warfare in Libya during the time of the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi. He said he was given $100,000 to stir up trouble back in Nigeria, an oil competitor to Libya.

Fomenting conflict proved easy in the restive Niger Delta he returned to in the early 1990s. From a local governor, Mr. Dokubo said, he procured weapons and money to build a militia that ultimately was several thousand strong. For years, they broke open pipelines, filling canisters with crude oil and refining some of it through timeworn techniques used by locals to boil palm-tree sap into wine.

The government struggled to lure him out of the mangroves. Dokubo responded to one amnesty offer that he considered meager by announcing a death threat against petroleum workers. Shell evacuated hundreds of expatriates and oil derricks briefly slowed to a stop. The next day, oil prices hit $50 a barrel for the first time.

The Federal Government offered Dokubo a truce and $1,000 apiece for his AK-47 rifles, numbering 3,182, the Journal reported. He said he took the deal and used the profits to purchase more weapons and return to the swamp.

There, he was finally arrested and coerced into another round of negotiations. Fearing assassination, he fled to Cotonou, Benin, where he said he founded a school for Niger Delta children. He showed a video of him teaching kids kung fu at the school, the Wall Street Journal reported.

New warlords quickly took Dokubo's place. Marauding under noms de guerre like Gen. Shoot-at-Sight, Gen. Africa and Gen. Young Shall Grow, they formed a loose confederation of gunmen calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, and crippled enough oil infrastructure to bring Nigeria's production on some days to a near-halt. That was when Nigeria announced the 2009 amnesty.

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