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Jonathan’s Aides Negotiate With Niger Delta Ex-Militants Over Insecurity

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | 4/23/2013 07:16:00 am

Aides of President Goodluck Jonathan are scheduling a series of meetings with ex-militant leaders from the Niger Delta states to smooth the way for Mr. Jonathan’s plans to run again in 2015.


Earlier, Lawrence Pepple, who works with Kingsley Kuku, the presidential adviser on Niger Delta Affairs and chairman of the amnesty implementation committee, held one of the meetings with some former militants. A source told reporters that Mr. Pepple discussed an alleged plot by anti-Jonathan forces to break the ranks of ex-militants and provoke insecurity in the region ahead of the 2015 elections.
Mr. Pepple, the head of Reintegration Department for the amnesty committee, stood in for Mr. Kuku at today’s talk. The meeting took place at the official opening of the office of a peace advocacy group called the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI). The group’s founder, Reuben Wilson, was an ex-militant leader.
Mr. Pepple warned that anti-Goodluck Jonathan forces had infiltrated everywhere, including the fold of ex-militants and the leadership of major oil producing countries. Mr. Kuku’s emissary disclosed that the primary reason for today’s meeting was to inform ex-militants of the amnesty committee’s efforts and plans to improve their welfare. He added, however, that worrisome reports on the activities of anti-Jonathan forces were linked to a recent spike in violence in the region, including the killing of 12 police officers in Bayelsa State.
Reading Mr. Kuku’s speech, Mr. Pepple reportedly described the murder of 12 police officers as a “tip of the iceberg.” He added: “More will happen. People are all out to create a sense of insecurity, not only in the North, but in the house of Jonathan so as to make him not sellable. Jonathan has value and he is better than those we don't know.” He then pleaded with the ex-militants: “They (anti-Jonathan forces) will come to you, please take their money and do not execute the destruction they want you to do."
The speech continued: “They have ganged up and will come in different clouts. This year, 2013, is the determining year on whether Goodluck will run or not. 2014 is the Passover year and we must make him marketable. They have penetrated many nations including the United States of America. This is why I am going to address the Congress on the Niger Delta issue. We need to tell the US Congress that if they support these anti-Jonathan forces, we cannot guarantee internal security in the Niger Delta." In his own speech, the leader of the newly formed group, Mr. Wilson, noted that the formation of the group was to serve as a catalyst for sustainable peace in the region.
“For some time now, the existing sustainable peace in the region has led to many positive developments,” he said. Mr. Wilson claimed that Nigeria’s oil wealth had risen and added that the benefits could be seen in new developmental strides under the administration of President Jonathan. Mr. Wilson described peace as golden, and then accused unidentified interests with “trying to puncture our testimony of total peace and tranquility entered into through the Federal Government’s amnesty program in the region." He blamed the killing of 12 police officers on “anti-peace agents.”
He condemned the killing and called on law enforcement agents to “go after these enemies of peace and development in the south-south. We will not allow them [to] drag the region back to the forgotten dark days.” Mr. Wilson pledged his group’s readiness “to assist the security agencies in bringing these evil agents to book to serve as a deterrent to others plotting to engage in violent crime,” adding, “Violence does not pay in resolving personal issues."
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