The founder of the defunct Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahideen Asari-Dokubo, on Monday dismissed the threat by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta to attack the Nigerian state and anything related to Islam, insisting the group does not exist.
MEND, through its spokesman, Gbomo Jomo, on Sunday announced that it will commence attack on mosques and Islamic clerics from May 31, in a new hostility condemned “Operation Barbarossa.”
MEND has also claimed responsibility for the destruction of Oil Well 62 belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company in Ewellesuo, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, as well as the recent killing of 12 policemen.
But fielding questions from State House correspondents, Asari-Dokubo, posited that MEND is a group that only exists on the pages of newspapers and on the Internet, asking the people to disregard the threat.
According to him, MEND came into being to free the former Bayelsa State Governor, Dipreye Alameiyeisegha, and himself from detention, recalling that Henry Okah, under oath in court, had also denied being the leader of MEND.
He said: “I Am a Muslim.
“I do not subscribe to attacking religious centres of worship.
“I do not believe that MEND exist.
“I have always said that there is nothing like MEND.
“MEND is just the figment of the imagination of people.
“It’s on the Internet, newspapers.
“But who is MEND?
“Nobody can really tell you.
“MEND was formed only in name for the purpose of my release and the release of Alameiyeisegha when we were in detention.
“MEND leaders are not known anywhere like other organizations like the Ijaw Youth Council, OPC and so on.
“MEND actually is faceless because Henry Okah himself has denied that he is not the leader of MEND in court under oath.
“I don’t think there is any oil installation that has been attacked in the Niger Delta.
“But the unfortunate incidence that happened in the Bayelsa, if you dig deep into it, many people were paid money through this amnesty and instead of paying their followers they pocketed much of the money for themselves and these followers were angry that the N65,000 stipend that was supposed to go to them did not get to them.
“And, according to the allegation, when one of the leaders was going for his mother’s burial, they had the opportunity to attack because they had problems with the engine of the boat and the Police were stranded and were attacked and I don’t think it is MEND.
“I think it is an internal disagreement and some of the perpetrators have been arrested. because I am very concerned about it.
“Our struggle was a moral struggle and anybody who introduces any other element into that struggle is not part of us.”
Asari-Dokubo said there was no religious war in the country, warning those attempting to create war to desist.
His words: “I want to say that there is no religious war in Nigeria and nobody should try to throw Nigeria into religious crisis that will have far reaching consequences.
“For instance, in Yorubaland, how are you going to fight?
“In some families, the family is divided.
“The mother is a Christian, the father is a Muslim, the children are divided.
“There are pastors, there are missioners of Islamic organizations.
“Even in my family, of my father’s children, I am the only muslim and my 18 children are also Muslims.
“So how are we going to fight and kill each other?
“I don’t think it will be possible and I don’t think anybody should be foolhardy in introducing that agenda into the crisis we already have.”
On the amnesty being proposed for the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, by the Federal Government, Asari-Dokubo noted that amnesty is a fraud as it is alien to the nation’s constitution.
According to him, it was a great mistake that government granted the ex-Niger Delta militants amnesty but hastened to add that once it had been granted to one group, other groups must continue to enjoy same gesture.
He spoke further: “First, amnesty is a fraud.
“It is not known to the Nigerian law.
“The government can only put in two things: exercise prerogative of mercy after a person has been convicted or when a person
is under trial to put a nolli prosequi, but you cannot see somebody and declare him a criminal and give him pardon.
“It is very wrong.
“It is a mistake we made the first time and if you have made a mistake once, you continue to make it.
“If you give amnesty to the Salafi movement, I don’t know them as Boko Haram, other people will come and may be I will form a group and ask for amnesty and they will give.
“So the vicious circle will continue.
“I cannot in one breath see that some other people are sitting at home and receiving N65,000 and say that others should not.
“I cannot say that.
“It will be inconsistent with what I stand for.
“As far as I am concerned, the amnesty proposed to whether it is Boko Haram or any organisation, as far as it has been given to one set of people, it should be given to all.”