Fresh facts yesterday emerged on how former President Goodluck Jonathan and prominent Ijaw leaders, including state governors from the Niger Delta region prevailed on foremost ex-militant leader, High Chief Government Epemupolo popularly called Tompolo to abort a scheduled meeting of ex-militant generals in Bayelsa State.
According to Leadership Newspaper reports, though several telephone calls were made to Tompolo by the Ondo, Delta and Bayelsa state governors, Olusegun Mimiko, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Hon. Seriake Dickson respectively, on the need for him (Tompolo) and others to abort the proposed meeting due to the tensed reaction it had generated, the call by Jonathan was reported to have convinced Tompolo to abort the meeting and allow state governors from the region meet with President Muhammudu Buhari on the issues of the hitches experienced in the Federal Government amnesty programme.
Among those mentioned to have called Tompolo between Friday and Saturday were the Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clarke and some newly appointed service chiefs.
Governor Dickson, who was to be an uncomfortable host of the contentious meeting was subsequently, assigned to issue a statement cancelling the meeting.
In the statement issued by Daniel Markson-Iworiso, the chief press secretary to Dickson, he simply cancelled it and announced that the governors and the aggrieved ex-militant leaders would meet soon.
But the media aide to Tompolo, Comrade Paul Bebeminibo, when contacted by Leadership Newspaper, simply said the decision to abort the meeting was a call by the collective pressure by all Ijaw leaders.
Meanwhile, the decision by the high military command to deploy armed soldiers to cordon off the Ijaw House venue of the aborted meeting of the ex-militant leaders, under the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state has sparked off protest among Ijaw youths.
The armed soldiers and riot policemen who arrived the Ijaw House building at about 12pm on Friday and left late on Saturday morning, condoned off the venue of the meeting with the workers of the Ministry of Ijaw Affairs and the workers at the Secretariat of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) unable to work.
The Ijaw House, which is considered the administrative Headquarters of the Ijaw youths in the region, was taken over by soldiers and visitors and workers ordered away from the premises.
Reacting to the development yesterday, the spokesman of the IYC, Comrade Eric Omare, condemned the military invasion.
“The invasion is illegal, unconstitutional and a draw back to the dark days of military dictatorship where Nigerians were deprived of their fundamental rights. The IYC wishes to remind the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari that we are in a constitutional democracy where things are done according to law. The 1999 Constitution which is the foundation upon which our democracy is built recognises the right to freedom of assembly and movement,” the IYC noted.
The IYC further pointed out that the Niger-Delta people whether as ex-agitators or youth groups have the right to assembly in a meeting and free movement, adding that President Buhari did not go to war with the Niger Delta people in the March 28, 2015 Presidential election with Niger-Delta born Jonathan but only contested an election in which he came out victorious and that they were therefore at a loss as to why Buhari had decided to treat the Niger Delta region like an enemy zone and a conquered territory.”
“Political, opinion and religious leaders and the international community should prevail on Buhari to have regard for constitutionalism in the Niger Delta region and stop the violation of the rights of Niger Deltans. The IYC would also take immediate legal and related actions to address these violations. Whether President Buhari likes it or not, the Niger Delta people would meet to determine their destiny in Nigeria,” they added.