Letter From Forest Soldiers

LEADER of ex- militants cutting across Ogun, Lagos, Ondo and other Niger Delta States, Gen. Ogailo Iborry is raising alarm over the neglect and re

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Gen. Ogailo Iborry handing over arms to Ondo State governor Agbola Ajahi

LEADER of ex- militants cutting across Ogun, Lagos, Ondo and other Niger Delta States, Gen. Ogailo Iborry is raising alarm over the neglect and renege of promises of the federal government of Nigeria and the relevant state government made to them on 27th of November 2017 during the surrender of arms.

The government has at various times blamed them for the unrest faced in the Niger Delta region particularly in Ondo, Ogun and Lagos state areas.

The federal government, through the Deputy Governor of Ondo State Agboola Ajayi, who was the Chairman of the State Amnesty Committee, together with representatives of the Delta State Government, Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operation Base, Igbokoda, Navy Captain Usman Yahaya were all witnesses of the handover ceremony last year.

       Arms and ammunition turned in

Some of the arms which were willingly submitted include 36 Browning wz machine gun, 120 Daewoo K3, 140 Colt Automatic Rifles, 22 General Purpose Machine Gun, 183 Breda 3, 58 Fiat Revelli Modelling, 122 AK 47 rifle, 19 Rocket Launcher, 119 CETME Ameli, 72 Heckler & Koch MG4, 227 Pump Action, 314 pistols, 378 bullet proofs and some Automatic Cartridges among others not listed herein.

The promises made by the federal government included enlisting them into the Amnesty programme, provision of a College of Education, bridge, water system toilets, network facilities, and pipe borne water to the community, payment of stipends and release of over two hundred young men who are citizens of this great nation as well as pipeline and oil facilities surveillance jobs. From that time after the release of the arms up till the present day, the government has neglected, refused and/ or omitted to fulfil any of the promises including the release of these men who are awaiting trial in various detention centres which include but are not limited to Olokuta prison, Akure; Ikoyi Prison, Lagos; Area F prison, Lagos; Federal SARS Lagos; and Kuje prison, Abuja.

Instead of fulfilling their promises, the government deployed soldiers to the region to wreck havoc. This has led to an outcry amongst the people and these men are now being forced to return to arms.

We state categorically that the deputy governor of Ondo State and Chairman of the State Amnesty Committee, Mr. Agboola Ajayi has since the willing submission of arms not made direct contact with any of us or even picked any of our calls to him.

Some of the boys that denounced militancy

We reiterate further that if the federal or state government has released any funds towards meeting their promises, none of the funds whatsoever has been released to any one of us, neither has any information regarding this been communicated to us particularly as we have been reliably informed that the names of these ex militants have been replaced by pseudo names on the Amnesty Programme list.

The leader, Gen. Ogailo Iborry has incurred debts of over Five Hundred Million Naira to cater for the needs of the men who were under him (totalling over five thousand men across the Niger Delta region) together with their wives, children and other dependents which include feeding, medical bills and payment of school fees for their children.

It should be noted that Gen. Ogailo Iborry stated that the kidnapping of the six male students of the Igbonla Lagos Model College, Epe, Lagos State in the past was not done simply for obtaining a ransom but to pave a way for negotiation of their freedom and full reintegration into civil life.

By neglecting to fulfil their promise, are the federal and state governments portraying to us that they prefer unrest to the peace presently being experienced in the Niger Delta region and the nation at large?

 Are they saying that the unrest is better for the economic and political development of the country considering that the country is at the brink of an election year?

Are the federal and state government aware that a return to arms will not augur well for the political climate of the Niger Delta region and the nation at large?

Are they aware of how this renege of its promises places the country in the international community?

Since the deputy governor of Ondo state Mr. Agboola Ajayi has played the game of deceiving us into the surrender of our arms by the instrumentality of using the name and apparatus of the federal government, we hereby issue this letter as an appeal to the federal government to start up on the fulfilment of their promise.

We appreciate the efforts of the present administration led by the amiable President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari towards promoting peace and development in the region. We dropped our arms because of our faith in the Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led administration. We also use this opportunity to declare our continued trust that the President being a man of integrity will ensure that the promises made to us are kept.

We call on their Excellencies Governors Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Seriake Henry Dickson of Bayelsa  State and Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa of Delta State as well as their deputies and all other well meaning governors in the country to partner with the federal government to facilitate the fulfilment of the above promises in order to avoid the dire consequences that may be the resultant effect of a return to arms in the region. We also call on international bodies like the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and PANDEF which is a National body to employ all modalities in ensuring that the federal and state governments fulfil their promises to us.

Signed By:
Gen. Ogailo Iborry
(for The Niger Delta Ex Agitators)