The Federal Government officially reacted on Thursday to the war threat by ex- Niger Delta militants, saying it was reprehensible.
The condemnation came barely a day after a former Minister of Defence, Lt.Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, called for their arrest and seven days after the ex-militants made the threat at the Government House in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
The ex-militants – Mujahiden Dokubo-Asari, Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), Victor Ebikabowei (aka Boyloaf) and others – had at the end of a meeting attended by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, said, “For every Goliath, God created a David. For every Pharaoh, there is a Moses. We are going to war. Every one of you should go and fortify yourself.”
But as the Federal Government, through the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, cautioned against inflammatory remarks, unrepentant Ekpemupolo, said Danjuma was the one that should be arrested by security operatives.
The minister, at a news conference in Abuja, said that there was no basis for the ex-militants to be beating war drums since President Goodluck Jonathan had said he would concede defeat if he lost the February 14 presidential election.
He said, “It is reprehensible for people to threaten this country with mayhem should their candidate lose the election . The President, Dr. Jonathan, has not left anybody in doubt as to his preparedness to conduct a free, fair, credible and transparent election.
“Mr. President has said that in the unlikely event of his losing the election, in the course of this exercise, that he was straight man enough, he was democratic enough to concede defeat.
“So, if Mr. President himself, who is the main contestant, who is the President of this country, who is the leader of the PDP(Peoples Democratic Party) has come out to say that he was going to ensure free and fair elections where the choice of Nigerians would be respected, I do not see where statements from supporters of either Mr. President or any political party for that matter should derail the course of this democratic movement.”
The minister, who said that the anxiety over the elections was unwarranted, stressed that the Federal Government was determined to conduct hitch-free elections.
He added that security agencies had been sufficiently mobilised for the elections.
Shortly after Moro spoke, Ekpemupolo, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Paul Bebenimibo, wondered why Danjuma, who did not condemn the stoning of Jonathan’s convoy in Katsina and Bauchi states, would want them arrested.
He asked, “Is Gen. Danjuma not aware of the peaceful atmosphere when Gen. Buhari visited Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states for campaign? Why is it that President Jonathan’s convoy was attacked in Kastina and Bauchi states without any provocation?
“Where was this so-called statesman when the APC campaign Director General, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, threatened to form a parallel government if Jonathan wins the 2015 elections?”
Ekpemupolo said that Danjuma should be reminded that the treaty that brought the Southern and Northern Protectorates together in 1914, expired last year.
He added, “Let Gen. Danjuma and his cohorts know that they will not see any Ijaw man, Igbo and others to fight on their side if the war that they are planning breaks out.
“And finally, Gen. Danjuma and his cohorts should know that I remain resolute on my position in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, that President Goodluck Jonathan must win this election for Nigeria to continue to stay together.”
Ohaneze Ndigbo also faulted Danjuma and called on him to worry himself more with ending the destructive activities of Boko Haram in the North-East.
The Secretary General of the group, Joe Nworgu, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that the arrest of Ekpemupolo and Dokubo-Asari was not the solution to the security problem in the country.
He said, “They should prevail on all those behind the insurgency in the North to stop. Let them do that and not to call for the arrest of people who are merely issuing verbal threats.
“The group they armed are destabilising the country. Their men are already armed and fighting and embarrassing the country. These ones are only issuing verbal threats.
“Luckily, Danjuma is in charge of the relief funds for victims of the insurgency. He is in a better position to know those that should be cautioned.”
Nworgu enjoined those perpetrating violence to realise that no single group of individuals had the monopoly of violence.
But the Northern Elders Forum has declared support for the call by Danjuma.
The forum’s spokesperson, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, “It makes a lot of sense. It serves as a wake-up call for people who are derelict of their duties.
“If somebody (in the security services) is asleep, he should wake up and do his job that is all Gen. Danjuma is saying.”
Abdullahi dismissed allegations that the former minister was being partisan by not speaking up when similar statements were made by some northerners.
He said, “That’s absolute rubbish, it does not make sense to make such claims. This is not the first time they (ex-Niger Delta militants) are issuing such threats; It has been going on for some time and nobody has cautioned them.
“If you look at the environment and venue where they make such comments you cannot connect it directly to those who are responsible for it. People have been calling for this (arrest) for a long time.”
The Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has also cautioned those beating the drums of war to refrain from doing so as it threatens the survival of the country.
Secretary of the group, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, said in Akure that the former militants and Boko Haram insurgents were taking issues to the extreme.
He said, “That is not the part of democracy. Although they were reacting to the attack on the President when he went to campaign in the north, it is not sufficient to begin to talk about war.
“Even the President will not accept that. He would not want the country to break in his hands.
“What the former militants should be doing is to campaign effectively for the President so that he becomes President.”