By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
As the tempo of political activities pick up across the country ahead of the 2019 elections, former agitators in the Niger Delta have raised the alarm over the mass movement of sophisticated arms and ammunition to the South-south zone of the country and the recruitment of thugs by politicians.
In a statement issued yesterday and made available to THISDAY, the ex-militants, under the aegis of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, said more than 48,000 AK-47 rifles, pump actions, pistols, ammunition and others weapons have been moved to different locations in the Niger Delta region.
The statement was signed by the Convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators and leader of Niger Delta Watchdogs, General John Duku; Gen. Jomo Gbomo for Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND); Gen. Mudoch Agbinibo for Niger Delta Avengers; Gen. Ekpo Ekpo for Niger Delta Volunteers; and Gen. Simple Benjamin for Bakassi Strike Force; among others.
The statement read in part: “Recently, there is proliferation of assorted sophisticated and dangerous weapons in the Niger Delta region brought in by politicians to cause mayhem in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.
“Already, one of our Generals has been contacted by a top official of a political party to supply about 150 of his boys who will be part of the 3,500 thugs they want to use in each state of Niger Delta region to prosecute their nefarious activities during the forthcoming elections.
“The negotiators have agreed on payment of N100,000 per thug on each election day, while the leaders (Generals) will earn N1m on each election day.”
They said the politicians have also procured fake military and police uniforms, which the thugs would wear to disguise themselves as Nigerian soldiers and policemen.
“They are all out to foment trouble and cause insurgency in the area, particularly Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States,” the agitators said.
The agitators added: “Ordinarily, we would have remained silent, but for the sake of innocent citizens who may unknowingly fall victim to these untrained/illegal handlers of weapons, and for record purposes, they have already planned violence that are likely to erupt during the elections if the poll is not in their favour.
“The Niger Delta region has been peaceful in recent times as a result of the hard work our elders, leaders and stakeholders have been doing. However, our concern is what perimeter do these politicians put in place to retrieve these weapons from these thugs after elections? What measure do they put in place to maintain these boys after elections?
“It is obvious that there is no such plan, the inability and failure of these politicians to retrieve these weapons from their thugs after elections or proper maintenance plan would turn these boys into high caliber criminals, thereby turning the peaceful Niger Delta region into security flashpoint.
“We want to alert the Niger Delta people, particularly Akwa Ibom people that the threat of “Warsaw would see war” is not a joke. There is a grand plan by power drunk politicians, to assassinate, maim, kill, kidnap and intimidate whoever they see as a barrier in order to take over power by all means.”