Tension reigned in the Ijaw area of the Niger Delta yesterday following the arrest in Lagos of a prominent ex-militant commander, Mr. Ebikabowei Victor Ben, alias Boyloaf, by the police.
However, our correspondent learnt that Boyloaf was released few hours after his arrest.
Boyloaf was detained at an undisclosed police station in Lagos before his release also yesterday.
The arrest was due to threat to public peace as the militants engaged one another on their arrival in Lagos for the meeting.
It was reliably gathered that Boyloaf was released after an undertaking to ensure that peace reigned and that his boys were called to order and cautioned.
The group threatened to boycott a meeting scheduled to hold yesterday called by Ijaw elders in Lagos unless Boyloaf was released by the police.
The associates of Boyloaf, who converged on Ajah Lagos residence of Tom, sent a message to the Ijaw leaders at the Eko Hotel and Suites venue of the meeting on the fate of their colleague.
One of Boyloaf ’s associates, who did not want his name mentioned, said: “Our leader was arrested by the police in Lagos this (yesterday) morning.
“We have decided not to attend the meeting conveyed by the Ijaw leaders at Eko Hotel and Suites until Boyloaf is released and our position has been conveyed to the conveners of the meeting, including Chief Edwin Clark.”
In a related development, Ijaw leaders and ex-militant commanders in the Niger Delta met in Lagos yesterday ostensibly to work out strategies for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
The meeting was ongoing as at press time yesterday.
Some key players of Ijaw extraction in the Jonathan administration were also invited to the meeting convened by Clark; the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and former ministers – Chief Alabo Graham-Douglas and Dr. Abiye Sekibo.
It was also gathered that the forum was designed to reconcile the feuding Ijaw ex-militant leaders, who had been polarised into two factions. Findings by National Mirror yesterday revealed that the leaders of the two factions, under the aegis of Oporoza House and Izon Ikemi, were invited to the meeting.
The Oporoza House, led by Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, alias Tompolo, also has Shootat- Sight as one of its key members.
Other militant leaders, including Tom, Boyloaf and Asari-Dokubo, founded Izon Ikemi.
The two groups had been at daggers’ drawn over the attention and patronage by President Jonathan, with the leaders of Izon Ikemi accusing the President of favouring Tompolo with juicy appointments and contracts.
The anti-Tompolo elements in Izon Ikemi have been threatening to withdraw support for Jonathan’s re-election in 2015.
Reliable sources told National Mirror that yesterday’s meeting was initiated to unite the exmilitants and form a common front for the realisation of the second term aspiration of President Jonathan.
A source said: “The Ijaw leaders invited the youths (ex-militants) to a crucial meeting at Eko Hotel and Suites to foster a common understanding for the second term bid of our kinsman, President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2015.
“The elders are not comfortable with the division among the ex-militants and the attacks on the President by some of them.
“We want all Ijaw people, be they elders or youths to speak in one voice in favour of the reelection of Jonathan, otherwise discordant tunes would send dangerous signals about Jonathan’s reelection to the other parts of the country.” Meanwhile, the operations of the American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, suffered a setback on Saturday as protesting Ugborodo youths in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, seized one of the company’s platforms in the area.
Consequently, the management of the company had reported the incident to the authorities of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, JTF, Operation Pulo Shield.
It was gathered that the oil firm told the JTF that a prominent Niger Delta activist and top Itsekiri traditional title holder.
Following this, Emami was picked up from his residence in Warri by the JTF troops yesterday. He was subsequently detained at David Ejoor Barracks, (3rd Battalion), Effurun.
National Mirror learnt that the detention of Emami, who is also the Chairman of Itsekiri Regional Development Council, IRDC, a peace initiative of Chevron with its Itsekiri host communities, was ordered by the Commander of JTF, Maj.-Gen. Bata Debiro.
Efforts to secure the release of Emami by stakeholders in the state were rebuffed by the Delta Sector Commander of JTF, Lt. Ifeanyi Otu.
Otu insisted that only Debiro could order the release of the activist.
He, however, told National Mirror that Emami was not arrested, adding that he was only invited to “clear the air on certain issues.”
This development generated tension in Warri and its environs yesterday as youths besieged the Army formation to demand his immediate release. They threatened a showdown with Chevron if the security agency failed to heed their request.
It will be recalled that Ugborodo youths seized the oil location following the failure to implement a memorandum of understanding signed with the community over the provision of some basic amenities, especially foreshore walls and electrification.