It is said that at times silence is not golden. This is one of those periods when silence can no longer be golden. Those who sit in the comfort of their homes and try to confer on themselves credentials that can not be verified in the creeks, waterways or the swamps of the Ijaw and Niger Delta territories should keep quiet when those who posses authentic and verifiable credentials are on the podium. Too much has not been said. If we do not separate criminality from the struggle even God will abandon us. We must learn to call a spade a spade. And we must learn to work with the facts.
INTRODUCTION Ordinarily I would not have commented on the issue of this bloodthirsty criminal Henry Okah if those who knew so little had learnt to keep quiet. I met Henry Okah on the 3rd of February 2003 at the residence of a mutual friend who introduced him to me as an Ijaw man who deals in arms. I placed my orders for 6.8 million Naira worth of firearms and paid him cash on the spot in advance of the delivery. Henry Okah was so elated that he told the mutual friend that he had not seen an Ijaw man who was so ready to part with his cash for the sake of the Ijaw struggle. When I met him on the day of the delivery of the arms at the designated point, Henry Okah asked me if I was engaged in bunkering or a recipient of government patronage to be so committed to the struggle. I told him no to either and made specific reference to my support of bunkering since the oil was our but was opposed to the environmental impact it had as a side effect to the actions of bunkering. He said in return that struggles couldn’t be carried out with personal funds, as we Ijaws do not have the type of money to pursue a struggle. I told him that the struggle must first be moral as there was no way God would help us if we were are like our enemies. He replied that I should open my eyes as even the people in Afghanistan engage in hard drugs and trafficking to survive. I told him that as a learned Muslim I could say categorically that those who purchase arms through haram (illegal) money are not fighting in the cause of God. There are people alive today who can confirm. Later on I ordered for more arms from him when the crisis in Warri re-ignited between June and July of 2003. I sold my house in Johannesburg, South Africa, which I bought in 2002 during the Earth Summit and promptly paid him 4.5 million cash. The arms were duly delivered to our brothers in Ogbe-Ijo. Again there are living witnesses to this.
THE RIVERS STATE CRISES The relationship between us continued on a cordial note and I asked Henry to open credit line for me. He supplied me arms worth 2.5 million on the 7th of August 2003 because of the threat from Ateke Tom’s Icelandic cult to overrun Buguma my hometown. When the crisis became full blown I relocated to Warri and stayed at the house of the now honourable Timinimi George shuttling between Okerenkoko and Warri. I made several appeals to Henry Okah to assist me with more credit facilities, which he delayed. Firstly he asked Tom Polo to facilitate the recovery of my arms, which I had sent to Warri, which they had used but refused to return to me. Tom Polo tried to secure the return of these arms but it was largely unsuccessful. Tom Polo then decided to of his own volition give me 50 AK 47s with which I used to launch the first series of attacks on the stronghold of the Icelanders. All my attacks were successful. It was only then Henry Okah decided to send 50 AK 47s, 10 General Purpose machine guns and 10 cans of bullets. With this success Henry was excited and decided that he could send in about 5000 rifles if I assured him that the money would be paid. Before then I had paid Henry a total of N13.24 million as part payment for the 50 AK 47s, 10 General Purpose machine guns, 10 cans of bullets and the N2.5million credit line he had provided for me earlier. This left an outstanding sum of N11.86 million to be paid later. With hindsight I truly believe our rapid success without help from any of the other militant groups was a cause of concern to Henry and others. He wanted us to slow down. Later on we discovered that he began supplying arms to Ateke Tom through a special adviser to the Governor of Rivers State of Ogoni extraction. He was the same person responsible for arms recovery from militants. It is also on record that apart from this treachery in Rivers State Henry Okah was also supplying arms to Itsekiris in Delta state. It might be worth mentioning so as to soften that blow that Henry’s wife is half Itsekiri and his driver for arms distribution is a full blooded Itsekiri man. Once again there are living witnesses to these claims. Just so you know the man we are dealing with. After promising the additional 5000 rifles, Henry never fulfilled this promise but instead dried up his supply and passed word to the Ateke camp that we were short of arms. We waited in vain for his promised supply. Luckily a Muslim brother of Ijaw extraction had some alternative links with some Igbo arms suppliers who were very impressed when I demonstrated that I knew Ralph Uwazirike and even asked me to advise him that arms struggle was the only way to sit up and take notice. A few days to the final attack on the 27th of August 2004 the famous Operation Dennis Fiberesinma these people gave us 572 AK 47s and 50 General Purpose machine guns at almost 30% of the price that Henry Okah had been giving it to me. With our success on the Operation Dennis Fiberesinma campaign Henry Okah then started calling to say he could now supply arms. By then we had donations coming in torrents from our Ijaw brothers mainly Okrika and Kalabari people and it was from here we were able to pay off our Igbo benefactors and the tricky, cunning and very wicked Henry Okah. All this treachery and backstabbing were unknown to us at that time. We despite his failings still celebrated his efforts and had even coined him at the time ‘Master of Arms’ from where many now call him Master. When I returned from Abuja what appeared a surprise to me then but seems so clear now was the coincidental and timely arrest of my two main Igbo arms suppliers one of whose whereabouts nothing has been heard of since. Only two people aside from me knew of our transactions and one of them Fara was to cross over to Henry Okah’s legacy of criminality, which I will unravel later. *RETURN OF ARMS* During the course of the Abuja peace meeting it was resolved that the parties to the crisis should disarm but I refused. I maintained that the arms belonged to the communities and could not ask the communities to give them up since I did not procure it for them. Henry Okah pleaded with me that I should go along with it as we could use it to make more money to buy more arms. For three weeks I refused to oblige him. He recruited a top Ijaw politician and a mutual friend of both of us to plead with me to see reason while it was important for my security and wellbeing. When this mutual friend failed, he then enlisted his adviser to the Governor friend who was in charge of the arms recovery to highlight further the economic advantages of the return of the arms as Henry himself would bring the arms and resell to government. I later agreed and set up a time with government to bring my arms. At the appointed time Henry Okah who was to bring arms from the camp of Tom Polo never did. In order not to loose my credibility I then turned to another one of my Igbo benefactors who brought in 250 AK 47s that I used to save my face. Together with some of my arms in the camp I made my first returns to government. It was then that Henry brought in 1,300 G3 rifles as part of the first five thousand consignments he promised me before now but had said were around since before the end of the crises. At the end of the final return we had turned in 2,377 G3 rifles, 611 AK 47s, 47 GPMGs and two rocket launchers. Most of the AK 47s were not supplied by Henry and the G3 rifles were easy to let go as none of the fighters in their right minds wanted a G3 beside him in battle. They would rather carry sticks and tie Egbesu. Henry Okah is alive and one day may testify to this. His price of a G3 was even higher than our Igbo friends supplied an AK 47 while his GPMGs were twice their price. Still we appreciated him. Even though his prices were steep, his timing was unreliable, he was Ijaw and he could bring in large volumes. In the times of war and crisis, price did not matter; it was volume as money is of no use to a dead man. Besides we had learnt never to rely on one source. Even to this day. EQUATORIAL GUINEA One morning in March 2005, I can not precisely remember the date now, a group of Bush Boys aka Peacemakers of Okrika arrived in my house and were shouting at the top of their voice casting aspersions on my integrity and impartiality as a leader. I came out and asked them to leave if they would not behave themselves. They refused to leave and said that I was denying them food to eat and that they were angry with me. Presido we dey vex, now wey e don reach to chop you dey go select people for our back make them go chop for Panya (Equatorial Guinea). I was astounded and called Sunny Opuambe the General Commander of the Bush Boys to come and take his boys away from my compound before I loose my temper. He came and asked them to leave. He then advised me to go in and he talked with them. Later he explained that Panya was a recruitment drive for Equatorial Guinea by somebody called Black Moses on my behalf and it involved people receiving N500, 000.00 each to go to Equatorial Guinea. The first person I called was Henry Okah who told me that he knew nothing of it. I later called around and found out that Commander Richman Yimbrin and Commander Three Lions were involved in the recruitment alongside Black Moses. I learnt that the boys were to be recruited to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea.
I called George Timinimi to enquire and he said that such a movement had no backing of the Western axis. I called Henry Okah again and impressed on him that whoever was responsible was endangering the lives of not only the boys but also the Ijaw people who constituted the majority of the foreigners settled in the coastal areas of Equatorial Guinea. He still feigned ignorance. I then reported the matter to the State Security Services and the Nigerian Navy intercepted the first batch that had already left for Equatorial Guinea. These Equatorial Guinea mutineers led by Colonel Ella Lebang were arrested and taken to Abuja. Richman Yimbrin was arrested at Government House PH were he had gone to see the CSO to the governor Mr Larry Pepple. During interrogations at the SSS headquarters it was learnt that those arrested including Yimbrin were recruited by Henry Okah who also provided the arms for the operation. I confronted Henry again who again denied his involvement calling Richman a liar. THE TURNING POINT A few days later my wife Hajiya Mujahidat Daba Dokubo Asari called to tell me there were plans to kill me by Henry Okah in league with some of my friends. I told her that such plans were ridiculous as Henry would not harm me first because of our relationship and second because we had returned guns jointly and were awaiting the proceeds of the turn in. Still I called Henry and confronted him on it to which he replied that such rumours were borne out of a desire to divide us. He also asked me to advise my wife to stay out of matters of men.
Curiously a few days later some of my commanders led by General Abiye Abaku Fara Dagogo, Bright George, Opu Kula, Kenneth Dan, Ethelbert, Napoleon Dagogo, Stephen George, Boma George came and demanded that I should give account of money so far received from the arms already turned in. I told them that it was none of their business as they did not pay one Naira for those arms and they did not know the source of those arms. The next day they mobilized themselves with over thirteen buses and motorcycles brandishing guns and other dangerous weapons. They on seeing a superior force and on realizing the futility of their actions proceeded to government house and stayed there till midnight. I called and complained to Larry the CSO who said they were pacifying them and would call a meeting two days later in Government House. After they left Government house that night they went to see Judith Asunni an American involved in peace work and conflict resolution at the Protea apartments in New GRA where it was confirmed in collaboration with the government house that the meeting in two days will hold. Judith had at the time had fallen out with me because she had tagged NDPVF as a cult group. Consequently she had promised to strip me of all my good press and destroy my name. This resulted in an open quarrel involving people like Ann Kio Briggs and George Kerley having an open conflict with her. I said very little at the time. Later a few persons who had sought refuge from me at the time of the crises joined her for access to the benefits she was receiving from government. Jaypee, Albert Akalogbo alias Olo, Theodre Fubara, Omo boy and others.
I discovered from inside sources that the plan was to humiliate me and strip me naked at that meeting and beat me publicly. I on that fateful day mobilized over 100 buses and motorcycles, shut Port Harcourt down and marched on foot to Government House where they in connivance with the authorities had taken cover. Odili fled Government House and live bullets were fired into the crowd while the police were busy securing the criminals who were behind them. Several people were injured and the press reported the matter widely. Two days later Boma George and Fara and others held a meeting with Henry Okah and George Timinimi and others purporting to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. I was not invited to that meeting. The boys were openly boasting of their Henry Okah backing and dismissed me as irrelevant.
Once again I confronted Henry Okah who denied this and insisted all efforts were for peace. Later I got a sense of the thinking of Henry when I heard he complained to our mutual friend that I was acting as if I was the unilateral voice of Ijaw people wondering who ascribed this role to me and citing the PRONACO dialogue, e.t.c. On hearing this I called him and he backtracked and said that I should have consulted with other Ijaw leaders. I advised him that I had and reminded him that Bello Oboko, George Timinimi, Isaac Osuaka, Ann Kio Briggs, Tony Oruanta, Mieabiye Kuromiema, Weri Dighifa, Kalada Jene and Comrade Joseph Evah were also in attendance. He said he did not know these facts but I should consult with the genuine stakeholders. I asked him who these genuine stakeholders were? I explained IYC representation by Mieabiye, FNDIC represented by Bello Oboko, Joseph Evah former INC and myself as a former President of IYC had a good pedigree for consultation. In May 2005 in preparation for the Boro day celebration former Governor Alams advised that I should not enter Yenagoa. I promptly called Henry Okah and reasoned with him on the benefits of the occasion for Ijaws as a one million march peacefully conducted will send a strong signal especially for the participants at the Political Reforms conference. Henry called back later saying Alams was out of town and not reachable. On the 16th of May before we proceeded from PH to Yenagoa Alams sent Prince Kakas Amgbare to stop the march, as he was ready to defray all costs. I refused and proceeded and faced all sorts of embarrassment including the arrest and detention of our participants. The one million man march was eventually aborted but Alams himself regretted it even though he was later to confess that he had received 5 hired assassins from the Federal Government & had kept them in government house waiting to kill me. His refusal to allow me into Yenagoa he said was directly linked to his plan to prevent my killing.
Later on Henry was reported to have said to our mutual friend that if they do not do something to benchmark my rising profile I would soon take all the credit for the struggle. Also a female friend of mine in Warri had said I should stay clear of Warri as they had finalized plans to kill me in Warri as a Kalabari man would never be allowed to lead the Ijaw struggle. True to this I visited Warri on the 17th of June 2005 for the naming ceremony of my daughter Halima Elebabene Dokubo Asari when my house was attacked in Warri by boys who never participated or whose contribution to our success was near zero. The fight was fierce and many of their boys were injured. In the fracas that ensued about five of them lay critical. Julius their leader was in surgery for several hours before they could save his life. The fingerprint of Henry was everywhere as the press in Port Harcourt courtesy of someone alive today to tell had already been told that Asari had been humiliated and stripped naked in Warri. By now Henry had already been seen with the type of persons that suggested his thinking and so it became difficult to deny the depth of their relationship even though he continued to maintain that he was only a mediator to settle the crises between me and my followers.
MY DETENTION AND ARREST After I was arrested and taken to Abuja I made no effort to contact him as I already knew his hand in glove relationship with Fara Dagogo and his gang. Boma their leader became mentally insane. Henry took Fara and some others to Okerenkoko where they were given two speedboats and some guns. Tom Polo was made to believe these were useful in the struggle for my release not knowing that a parallel structure was now being set up. When Fara was not able to carry out any significant operation, Tom Polo called me to send in my people to Okerenkoko for a meeting of all the groups so that a direction will be fashioned out to press for the release of myself and Alams. I sent two of our most trusted female Commanders, Cynthia Whyte and another alongside some of my personal bodyguards known as the Immortals led by my cousin Dakuro Princewill. It was at this meeting that a decision was taken by the groups to have a name and a platform for the struggle. Hence MEND was created not as an organization but as a name for the purpose of issuing unified statements. Henry Okah who was in South Africa for the integrity of our information flow was appointed e-mailer in his absence. The first major difference between Cynthia Whyte and Henry emerged during the raid on a bank in AGIP HQ Port Harcourt when nine policemen a majority of those being of Niger Delta extraction including Okirika were killed.
Henry confessed to giving the order and admitted that he got inside information but because of the inaccuracy of it had just missed the money. He insisted that the struggle needed money and justified the attack in this way. At this point top FNDIC and NDPVF operatives like Cynthia Whyte, Tonye Oruobo aka Ala T, Dennis Otuaru, George Kerley, Kersten Pondi, Paul Bebenimbo and others refused to work with him and commenced a subtle press battle even as far as issuing conflicting press statements. These crises were effectively managed by Government Ekpenpolo aka Tom Polo so that the crises would not blow into the public. Series of other bank robberies were continued with a conflict between JRC led by Cynthia Whyte and Henry Okah ensuing.
*POINT OF NO RETURN*
When I was still at the I.G’s guesthouse Henry sent word to me that there were plans to rescue me. I told him not to bother as I was prepared for the trial. My trust for him was no longer what it used to be. When I was finally taken to Kuje prison Henry and a few others came to visit me there. Here again he insisted on my escape as my continued detention was drawing the struggle backwards. I finally agreed and was asked to send 20 of my bodyguards for spiritual rites and training for the jailbreak rescue. Combatants were sent to carry out reconnaissance and detailed plans were concluded on how to hatch the plot. Suddenly the plans were turned around and the plot amounted to two female combatants with pistols surrendering the wardens in broad daylight followed by my transportation with four of his men and only one of my own by land to an unknown destination. The twentymen sent to prepare were no longer needed. The confusion that ensued in the last minutes before the fateful day resulted in a determination by my personal bodyguards the Immortals to carry out the operation on their own without Henry or his people whose identity was unknown to them. When it was clear that they would go ahead without him Henry leaked the information to the security agencies about an impending jailbreak and the security presence was immediately beefed up on the evening of the intended escape with the armoured personnel carriers, military, mobile police, regular police and SSS personnel. Nobody else was briefed of this detailed action plan except Henry, myself and those directly involved. It was at this time that I believe Henry planned the collapse of my command and control structure. I have never fought for relevance just for my people but it appeared that my blessings and my core people were a threat to him. The first to go was Ala T. He had refused to subscribe to the dissolution of NDPVF as proposed by Henry in the Abuja meeting and witnessed by about twenty others some of who are still alive today. His death, which was set off by a triggered explosion, was engineered by two people using a mobile phone the number that was known to only three. The other person aside from Henry who knew that number Godwin is also dead, killed a year later in another triggered explosion in Benin by the same method. The person who had the number aside from the victim should no longer be a surprise to you. It was Henry Okah.
Shortly after that I was moved to the Area 10 Police CIB headquarters. From there I paid Henry the remainder of his 137 million less 20 million even though the government of Rivers State has not paid me till date. I paid the money from my personal resources as I still had retainer ship with companies who were paying me monthly. I paid because I was demonstrating good faith I insisted upon paying up slowly and surely and so even behind bars I met my obligation as if I knew what was coming, I never wanted to owe Henry. Henry had agreed that as I was paying the money off, he would extend credit facilities to me but he didn’t. For the first time I decided finally to cut him off. After two months, a mutual friend intervened and settled us. Henry soon asked me for 5 million to assist him move a large consignment, which came at an opportune moment. Odili had offered me N3 million to compensate for my inconvenience and since I had vowed never to use Odili’s money, I passed it directly on to Henry and added 1 million Naira with the help of my cousin in Warri to make it 4 million Naira.
*THE CAWTHORNE CHANNEL ATTACK* Unknown to Henry the Immortals had perfected a plan for the most high profile and well coordinated attack in the history of the struggle of the Niger Delta. The Cawthorne Channel Gas plant attack saw the loss of 28 military personnel including a naval commander while two armored gunboats were sunk. Henry Okah was spellbound and speechless and was later to realize the ability to strike was still very much a capacity he could never limit or control. He contacted me and asked for the numbers of the leaders and I gave him a free hand to negotiate the release of the hostages. After this attack Henry promised to replenish and further strengthen the Immortals if I could get him 61.5 million. I reminded him that I only owed him 20 million. He said that he would write it off and use it to provide the kind of firepower that would make the government sit up and listen. He described the FNDIC team from the Western axis as thieves negotiating with government who could no longer hold Ijaw interests hostage as the Eastern axis had now demonstrated their ability as well.
When Henry collected the money the equipment was no longer forthcoming and after a while I heard that one of the criminal elements in the Okah legacy boasted that Alhaji will be paying while we will be collecting reference to the arms supply I called Henry to explain first the delay and second the comments of his newfound ally. Initially he said that we were all the same team and so wherever the arms were we would eventually get them to the rightful owner. I told him that I was not comfortable with my arms being given to someone else but he kept on reassuring me. After continuous persistence he eventually challenged me about the extra money and told me to go to hell. He said if I didn’t leave the matter I would die in prison accusing me of being ungrateful for all he had done for me. I replied by asking him if I had not paid for the items in full. The conversation as you can imagine was heated and in conclusion Henry said I can go to hell and that Niger Delta will not know peace until I am dead. He told me to go to hell and challenged me to come and get my money if I was a man. Unsurprisingly the following day a top officer in the police force whilst the then I.G was out of the country moved me from Area 10 to the SSS headquarters so fast even the SSS people weren’t expecting me. I had to wait for several hours in the lobby of their offices before a call from Aso Villa confirmed the move. The top police officer is a known accomplice of Henry Okah and so you can imagine I put one and one together to get two.
My painful and inhuman detention in the underground SSS cell created a resolve in me that I will continue to tell the truth even if it is against me because there is no pain no injury no suffering that I have not experienced or seen. The only thing I have not experienced is death but I do not fear it. Soon after, Henry used the Immortals to attack the Brass terminal, as they did not know our quarrel. At the time I was totally inaccessible and out of communication. As you are all aware this was another landmark attack with 97 Army men, naval men, mobile men and regular policemen present. The attack was carried out strictly by NDPVF. Henry directed that the 5 hostages be taken to the Elem Tombia camp (Fara’s camp) even though Fara had no hand in the attack, Henry had made him the commander in charge of the entire group, those loyal to me and those loyal to him. In order to forestall any NDPVF moves to gain control of the camp. Henry and Fara planned the attack on Kula, which they claimed was to assist Christian Don Pedro and other Kula youths under him to return back to Kula. When it was time for them to take off for the attack Fara vanished and Dakuro Princewill the leader of the Immortals had to lead the attack as he did in the Brass terminal attack. Fara leaked the impending attack to the Kenneth Dan’s group and Dakuro along with a few others were ambushed and taken out in what was clearly a set up. Immediately Dakuro was murdered in cold blood all the arms, speedboats and other materials of the Immortals were ceased and the remaining Immortals were asked to both take an oath and belong to the Henry Okah version of MEND or be killed since by ceasing their equipment the culpability of Henry and Fara in Dakuroâ€™s death was now clear.
*THE NEW RIVERS STATE After arguments and disagreements between Henry Okah and Fara on the fate of the Immortals because Fara would not agree to kill the remaining members, they were asked to leave. Meanwhile the Christian Don Pedro group joined Henry Okah as they were seen as the only group that could lead them back to Kula. Allegiance to the supply of arms and the increasing influence of the criminal element created a fast growing atmosphere of unrest. At the centre was Henry Okah. Before the elections Tonye Princewill had come to see me and I had urged him to go into politics pointing out to him that there was a need to seize political power. He told me that as much as he would have liked to he would not like to walk into the ugly world of Rivers State politics. He said that even if he was convinced to do so, the current dynamics favoured PDP because of Odili and the stranglehold he had on the mentality of the people. I reasoned that the only way was to give a credible alternative to PDP by demonstrating that significant factors like me were not aligned with PDP.
That day I decided to start the process by asking for the printing of my own posters for ACD even though I was not a member of the party. This process Tonye told me would be counterproductive and would throw me into conflict with government. As many now know, Tonye eventually joined AC after which I told all my people to work with him. Ateke, Soboma, e.t.c all agreed. Even Henry Okah agreed to all this and said he would work with the Ijaw interest. Unbeknown to me after giving Henry the opportunity to negotiate the release of the Cawthorne Channel hostages he established a rapport with the Rivers State government. Today it has become clear that Odili working with Henry took 100 million naira a month to pacify the same boys we read about today. The motivation was the receipts of monthly Federal allocation to other Niger Delta states, which were dwindling. Rivers State felt it wise to pay to keep their monthly allocations up. A government official told me this while in detention saying it was cheaper to pay the boys. I was asked if I had gotten my share of the July payment and I said I was interested as Henry and I were not in communication. I was moved to SSS in august.
On the 17th of February I was moved to DG’s penthouse and kept in a suite, a week later I had a television set and was allowed visitors at the Area 10 CIB head quarters twice a week. This was because of what I said at the court about the conditions in which human beings were kept. The underground cells were closed, as I was the last person there. When I came back to communicating again I asked Soboma at the time to support either Tonye Princewill or on the contrary, Bekinbo Soberekon. Soboma said that none of them had told him they were running and that he cannot work free of charge as the state government had now committed him and made the Chief Security Officer. Both Tonye Princewill and Bekinbo Soberekon were there when I was having this conversation but declined my informing Soboma that they were aware. He reminded me about my support for Aroloye Brown as Asari Toru local government Chairman and wondered why no benefits were forthcoming tome. I told him that I had no such expectations in my support for Aroloye. He said he would not be able to work with any other party since he could not make money. I then asked my mutual friend who was also contesting elections on the AC platform to talk to Henry since both Soboma and Fara who had also confirmed that he wasn’t with us, were now loyal to him. He received the same response from Henry his own friend. After then my access was restricted. Later I learnt that Ateke and Prince Igodo were on one side with AC while Soboma and Fara were on the other side with PDP. It is no secret that Prince Igodo was later killed and beheaded by these same Ijaw boys on the day of the Rivers State inauguration under the sponsorship of the Rivers State government for fear of his opposition to PDP and the inauguration. Define treachery please. Now we all know what happened in Rivers State to the same people who were supporters of this administration. And I warned Soboma that a repeat of 2003 would happen where he would be used and dumped. He didn’t listen. Then we all know who ordered the attack on Goodluck Jonathan at Government House and at his country home. It was on the back of the allegation that Rivers State treated them better. It was designed to appear as if it was from Tom Polo. Henry Okah had elevated himself to the position of pharaoh.
Why am I so bitter? If all my bitterness for Alams before his incarceration (check the archives) could be put aside when he was detained, why not Henry? I believe in the struggle. I love Ijaw more than I love myself. If I have achieved anything it is because I am an Ijaw man. I can forgive Henry for anything he did to me personally. His insulting my father, his refusal to give me my money or even his maligning my name can be forgiven. What I cannot forgive is his compromising the Ijaw struggle, the introduction of criminality and the dilution of the myth of the freedom fighter as a common criminal. We as Ijaws must be prepared to condemn criminality in all its ramifications. We are not perfect and are bound to make mistakes but surely we must be man enough to admit them. All of this will no doubt be restored but we too often settle for doing nothing whilst hoping things will improve. Am I the only one who is disgusted by the actions of Henry Okah and his crew? Am I the only one who knows that this man single-handedly undermined the Ijaw struggle while recovering huge financial gains from it? Does the thought of selling our birthright for a miserly 100 million a month not sicken you? I am sure I am not alone even though some who agree will not admit it publicly.
Calling for his release simply because he is an Ijaw man needs to be backed by evidence to contradict my claims. If I am correct in what I say about Henry Okah, he has not only not protected Ijaw interest; he has worked against it viciously. I am waiting for someone to contradict a word of what I have said here and provide contrary evidence. The names of witnesses and their phone numbers can be made available to corroborate any of my claims. In some case I have documentary evidence including receipt slips of payments. Some accuse me of working for Government but that portrays the ignorance of Asari. I might be silent, but I am not compromised. If tomorrow we are required to criticize, no government will say that they gave me anything and so I cannot be silenced. Allah knows that I have survived on goodwill since my release and have stayed quietly in the background leaving Rivers State for now so as to avoid conflict. My place in Abuja where I hardly stay was paid for with the intervention of Goodluck but he will testify that when given the option of two places I elected for the cheapest to their surprise which was dilapidated, still partially occupied and half the price of the other. Now I am spending less and less time in Abuja because I am aware that tomorrow government might fail us, and somebody might have to speak the truth again. God knows I have no hand in Henry’s travails. This is not to say that I am saddened by it. On the contrary I am happy. Even if it is just for the period he has stayed let him feel the frustration of detention and a little bit of the consequences of his ways. Many of the things he was doing to me I know now but never knew then. If he reforms well; if he doesn’t, I will personally play my role in bringing justice to him. Allah the most merciful will protect his children. My hands are clean and he knows my heart. This is the first of my two-part narrative on the matter. The next part will be the period after my release leading up to the present and my interactions with not just the security agencies, politicians, communities and government, but also with the criminals.
Comments from anyone who can shed more light would be welcome. That is what this discussion is about. Understanding. *
Friday, 1 February 2008
ARMS DEAL THE ANGOLA ARREST AND I BY DOKUBO ASARI
Kayode Ogundamisi is a commentator on Nigerian and international affairs, he was involved in the Nigerian pro-democracy struggle, Ogundamisi survived a trumped up charge of treasonable offence against the military government of General Babangida, he was detained in Jos prison in 1991 and released after intensive local and international campaigns against the government charging him and 12 other students before a military tribunal. Ogundamisi was a frontline member of the National Association of Nigerian Student and a former secretary general of the the University of Jos Students Union in Nigeria and the O'dua Peoples Congress.