Fresh violence may erupt in the crisis-prone Niger Delta following threats from ex-militants to return to the creeks and resume hostilities in about two weeks.
The ex-militants are demanding a total of N3bn compensation from the Federal Government for the killing one of their leaders, John Togo, and allegedly destroying two coastal communities in Delta State.
Togo and some of his ‘soldiers’ were killed in May 2011 by the Joint Task Force.
In two separate petitions, the Niger Delta Liberation Force, led by the late Togo, said it had decided to give the Federal Government June 21 deadline to pay the compensation following its N100m compensation to the family of the late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf.
Spokesman for the NDLF, Mark Anthony, and lawyer for the group, Casely Omo-Irabor, in the petitions to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, warned the government against treating their petitions with levity.
The group said, “The NDLF has authorised our legal team to demand from the Federal Government on behalf of our organisation to pay NDLF and the family compensation of N1bn for the extra-judicial murder of our commander and leader, ‘General’ John Togo, and his soldiers’’.
The group argued that if the family of the late Boko Haram leader could be compensated, the FG should begin consultations with its lawyers or risk “massive violence”.
It added, “The NDLF’s objective was clear. Our agitation was for local control of oil revenue arising from decades of years of criminal injustice and balkanisation by the Nigerian government.
“As part of our scope of operations, the NDLF did not go about the streets of Niger Delta to murder innocent citizens and security operatives unlike Boko Haram who went about bombing and killing innocent citizens, including worshippers in churches, security formations, UN building and other major strategic targets that had caused hundreds of families pain.
“But yet, the FG decides to beg them (Boko Haram) by paying N100m to the families Mohammed Yusuf and others slain by police.”
The ex-militants urged the government to make immediate compensation through its legal team not later than June 21.
They added, “The leadership has directed all NDLF soldiers and intending recruits to get ready for action, if the government ignores our demand.”
Attempts to get a reaction from the JTF spokesman, Lt Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, were not successful as his phone was switched off.
Meanwhile, former militants in the Niger Delta region have threatened to go back to the creeks if the Federal Government failed to fast-track the implementation of the third phase of the amnesty programme.
The militants said they had waited in vain for over a year for the federal government to begin the next segment of the programme.
One of the leaders of the ex-fighters in the region, Ramsey Mukoro, explained that his colleagues were sad over the lack of commitment displayed by government in the welfare of former militants.
Speaking in a telephone interview with THE PUNCH on Sunday, Mukoro cautioned that it would be difficult to pull the former militants out of the creeks if they were allowed to go back to the place.