…Says PANDEF has lost the momentum and relevance
By Shedrack Onitsha,
Comrade Daniel Ezekiel, is the spokesperson of Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, a pressure, non violent group advocating for the betterment of People of Niger Delta, he was arrested and detained for 15months DSS custody over trump up charges of allegedly having a link with the dreaded Niger Delta militant group, Avengers, but was released unconditionally, after investigation cleared him, in this exclusive interview with our Editor, he spoke on his ordeal, those who masterminded his arrest and those plotted against Tompolo from the Niger Delta region, he said that they may be chaos if 2019 election is conducted with the restructuring of the country.
Two years ago, you were arrested and taken away to unknown destination; is your arrest connected to your agitation for the betterment of Niger Delta people or is it in connection to militancy?
Yes, thank you very much my friend, people like you who had known my antecedent for years now, knows that I am not a militant and I will never be a militant, I have always been an activist who believes in using advocacy, which is Media, to project the agitation of the Niger Delta struggle. Yes I was arrested exactly on August 3rd, 2016, in respect to Niger Delta struggle. Some of our brothers spear headed by one Michael Jonny from Gbaramatu, sold a dummy to Nigeria State, cooked up all manners of lies against me that I was a militant, in fact that I was the spokesperson of Avengers.
And why did this man do this, it’s because he turned himself to Judas Iscariot, working with enemies of Niger Delta, selling his birthright to outsiders and I made it known to him that you cannot do this by working with enemies of the region to destroy your people. That is what now cumulated in his malicious and fake petition to Nigeria State, when he got one of our brothers Hon Simon Bedenimo, member of Delta Way Security Committee arrested and I fought gallantly for the freedom of Hon Bederimo. It was after that he told me that he will make sure I am arrested and true to his words, he wrote several fake petitions to security agencies, that was why I was arrested and taken away for a year and three months. And I was in the custody of the Nigerian State for fifteen months, but while in their custody, they carried out series of investigations, and at the end of the day, they discovered that I was not a militant, that what I told them which is, that I am an activist using advocacy to agitate for the betterment of my people was true. The DG of the DSS set up a committee, the committee found nothing against me, that was how I was left off the hook, released unconditionally
Can you give us insight into the ordeal you went through as a result of your incarceration?
My ordeal is what I will never wish my greatest enemy. When I was in incarceration, I now knew the reason why nation fought and still fighting against nation, while empire arose and still arising against other empire because of one thing and what is that thing? Freedom! Freedom is the most fundamental thing to human being, that was essentially taken away from me, so every other ordeal, there are so many, is it beating, psychological torture, mental torture, just name it, I am working on my memoir on my 15 months incarceration, by the time my memoir is ready, you my partners in progress in the media, you will all be there when I will launch it. You will see the full package, but it was a terrible ordeal, permit me to use such word.
Does the crisis between Johnny and one of the Ijaw national leaders Tompolo has anything to do with why you were arrested?
Yes! Thank you very much I am happy that you asked this question, before I answer that let me make it abundantly and crystal clear, while I was in detention, they were moving me from one place to another, I never denied it and nothing will make me to deny it, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, aka Tompolo is my Father, is my brother, he is the Isaac Boro of our time, and he will ever remain so, because he is not a criminal. He is a freedom fighter demanding for the betterment of his people. There is a saying that no matter how far lies goes, truth will catch up with it and overtake it. Immediately this government came onboard Michael Jonny decamped from the PDP to the APC and send several fake petitions to EFCC, courtesy of his ghost writer, one Israel Joe that he imported from Ishan land to Warri. They kept bombarding EFCC with their lies, that Tompolo sold only land worth N13 billion to the government of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. And being a critical stakeholder, we knew that these are just concocted lies just to demonize Tompolo. I came out in the media and told the whole world that these petitions were just fabrication of lies and that government of the day should send their people to Gbaramatu, to investigate. But because of the fact that some people from Niger Delta, especially the likes of Timpriye Silva, Rotimi Ameachi, Michael Jonny, and Ayiri Emami, feels that Tompolo is a threat to them or blocking their so call relevance, they cook up this fallacious petitions. So when I now came out on the part of fairness, justice and truth, which is what Ijaw means, Ijaw means truth, to defend Tompolo, Michael Jonny declared me as enemy’ to be crushed and killed. When I was in detention I learnt that the Vice President, Professor Yomi Osinbajo, don’t know how far it is true, came down to Gbaramatu kingdom and when they saw the structures on ground, he became speechless that what they told them that made EFFC to declare Tompolo wanted is quite different from what they saw, which means they deliberately orchestrate all manners of things against that young man. So, truly to the question you asked, I say yes, Michael Jonny saw me as somebody who is defending Tompolo. While he is pushing out lies and I was using truth to counter it, I think that’s what happened.
Now that you are out will you still continue for the struggle of Niger Delta and are you happy with the step taken so far by the federal government in respect to the Maritime University at Okerenkoko?
Yes I will continue with the struggle, there is nothing like if, let me sing this song by one of the greatest revolutionary of all time, sheg Overall, he said ‘freedom, struggle is the only life I know’, (2x) sorry for my ugly voice, for people like us, this is our calling, this is what Nanaowei, Nanaowei is Ijaw word for God, has called us to do. Frank Fannol, the Algerian revolutionary said “after relative obscurity, one must discover its mission, after discovery, it is left to fulfilled or to betrayed.” I, Senior Comrade Daniel Ezekiel have discovered my own mission on Earth. And what is my mission to be part and parcel of an era under the firm leadership of Government Tompolo to liberate people of Niger Delta, from internal colonialism, move Nigeria into a true federal system where our God given wealth will benefit our people maximally, just the way the Yorubas benefitted from coco, Northerners also benefitted maximally from groundnut, this is what we are agitating for. So the issue of if has no place in my lexicon. I know that what I am doing is not against the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, agitating using advocacy for the betterment of my people, I know it’s not a sin, and this I will continue to do. On the issue of the Maritime University, I think it’s so saddening that up to this moment that university has not taken off, this is a deliberate action from government of the day to tactically kill the takeoff of that school, because if not so I don’t know what is still keeping or holding down the kick off of the university. Among the demands of Niger Deltans, and the Avengers to the Federal for peace to reign, and according to my investigation when I came out, peace has been in this region, since last year when Professor Osibanjo came to Gbaramatu kingdom, now a year plus government has been making money, there has been relatively peace, oil price has surged up, why is that University still at the laboratory? This is the reason I said that I see this as a calculated attempt to tactically kill that university, and I think government of the day will not be doing itself any good is it allow crisis, violent and vandalization of oil facilities to resume in the region. It will not be in the interest of the government of the day, or must people go and blow pipeline before you will reason with them? You ask them to give you time, now almost a year plus, why don’t you reciprocate that good gesture, projects are being carried out, funding of projects are being carried out across the nation, why is our own different? Why are you not funding it and you are getting this money from our place, sometimes in December last year, government of the day withdrew one billion dollar if I am not mistaken, from federal pulse to fight insurgency Boko Haram, who goes about slaughtering, killing innocent people, burning mosque and churches all over to fund them. One billion dollar and the people that own the wealth, their own project is lying fallow, is it not sheer wickedness, how do you explain this, where is the fairness? Where is justice? I am no happy at all, and I will continue to say it that I am not happy.
Innocent Niger Delta youths are still in detention, while Boko Haram members are being set free?
As I am talking to you, our youths, innocent Niger Delta youths are still in detention, while Boko Haram members are being set free, why this double standard? Is it a crime that God deposit this black gold in our land? So these are some of the things that agitate my mind and bring sadness into me, anytime I think about it, and that is the reason there must be restructuring of this country before we go into 2019 elections. Because a situation where some group of people feels this nation is their birth right will no longer be tolerated. When you look at the President of Mayetti Allah, Nigeria body of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, they have never denied it that they are not the one slaughtering innocent people across the land, and you now come out in the media justifying the killing of innocent people and security forces never for once invited this man, but people like us who are genuinely agitating for the welfare and good of our people are being terrorize day and night. When some set of people feels that they are above board, that Nigeria is their personal estate, that means something is wrong, and restructuring of this country has become a must. But if we refuse to restructure this country and we go out into 2019 election, I foresee chaos, I am not a prophet of doom, because of the fact that some people have this supremacy ideology in them, while they are first class, others are second class. And these second classes are the one feeding the first class and how do you explain it? Bayelsa State that has 8 local government areas feeding Kano State that has 44, that is how I see it.
Talking about restructuring, the APC restructuring committee has submitting its report, do you think the APC has a party is sincere about restructuring of this country?
On the issue of APC, their intentions on restructuring is not sincere, they are out to deceive people, APC as a party strive on deceit, lies and propaganda, let’s cast our mind back, when they were in opposition, they promised heaven and earth, restructuring, true federalism, they will make one dollar to one naira, to bring down fuel to 45 naira, all manners of promises but when they came in, it was even the spokespersons of Mr President, Mr Shehu Garba, and Femi Adesina were the first to debunk the manifesto of the APC that Mr President never promised true federalism and restructuring. They said that the manifesto actually belong to APC and not Mr President. So, toady the promised change has becomes chain, and have brought unprecedented agony, and suffering in the land, never experienced in the history of country. Now APC having discovered that they have lost momentum, they now hatched a new plan, just the way they use change to cajole gullible Nigerians. Taking into account the intelligent of El Rufai, they went back into their laboratory that what can we do to now to whitewash these people again? That how they came up with restructuring knowing fully well that, that is the sing song across the length and breadth of the country; I can assure you that what they are doing is just package to deceive people so that they can be voted in 2019. There is no sincerity in this their new song of restructuring and I wouldn’t want Nigeria to make that mistake again by falling for it, on the issue of PANDEF, I think the body has not lived up to expectations and PANDEF has lost the momentum.
Seriake Dickson has betrayed Tompolo
Tompolo is in trouble today because he stood by Dickson, but he has been abandoned by those he fought for. The Ijaw nations never lose out of Bayelsa State, he mobilized resources and the rest, it was after that election that they declare him wanted, now Governor Seriake Dickson gallivants up and down, that he is the Governor General of Ijaw nation. The so called Governor General of Ijaw nation is only meritorious, the first Governor General of Ijaw nation, I am talking of Late DSP Alamesiya, when the Ijaws in Ondo state had issues with their neighbors, the Yoruba and the Ilajes, he went there, when the Ijaws had issues with the OPC in Lagos, he was there. When Ijaws had issues in Gabon, he was there, when Ijaws had issues in Cross River he was there, he mobilize men and resources to support the Ijaws that was Governor General. The new self acclaimed Governor General of Ijaw nation, you claim to be Governor General, your brothers are in detention, you never spoke against it, at least I have been out of detention since 26 of November last year, what stop Governor Dickson from calling for me, at that point he would have asked me about the fate of our youth in detention. What stop him from doing that, he never did it and if it was to be Alamesiya, he would have called for me because as at now, I am the ambassador of detained and released of Niger Delta youth because I am the only one out. The rest are there, as a true Governor General, what stops him from calling me, my brother or my son asking how did it go? He never did, on Maritime University I never heard him speak in support of it, when other states were kicking against the Fulani herdsmen, I never heard him say anything. Tompolo has been chased into exile he never said anything about it, the only thing he is so good at is eye service, what do I mean by eye service, when other state were kicking against Fulani herdsmen who goes about killing, slaughtering innocent people; Governor Seriake Dickson gave out Ijaw land to Fulanis. So, how do you reconcile that, is that how governor general should behave? I want to say with all sense of responsibility that the tag of Governor General that Dickson is adding to his name is just mere tag, he has not shown that he is the governor general of Ijaw nation. On the issue his comment on the issue of restructuring, I think it is a welcome development. Though from imperial evidence, Governor Seriake Dickson is just playing to the gallery, to please the government at the center, so that by the time he leaves office, he wants to go to Senate and the rest.
So going forward what is your advice to the people of Niger Delta because the momentum has gone down since Tompolo was driven into exile?
My advice to Niger Delta youth is that no matter the level of the violence, you will still come down to negotiations, that’s why I have always been a non violence advocate for agitation, so on that principle which was what Martin Luther King chose to put a stop to segregation in United States of America, and what Nelson Mandela used too to put a stop to apartheid, which was what Mahatma Ghandhi used in India to put a stop to British rule, which is non violent agitation, I would want to call on Niger Delta youths to rise up and embrace this form of struggle, engage Nigeria State in advocacy, God that put this black gold in their land, put it there to maximally benefit from it. They should continue to engage government of the day through this non violent advocacy. I will also advice government of the day to let my leader Tompolo to be. What is the crime of this man? What Michael Jonny and the rest are accused him of through those concocted lies are pure fabrications. It’s just giving dog a bad name just to hang it, so why is the Government still witch hunting him? I will appeal to the government of the day to let my brother be. Rather than harassing him, they should work with him. You can see fresh crisis all over Niger Delta, if Tompolo had been around, all these crisis wouldn’t have come up. I can say without contradiction that nobody has the type of influence, wherewithal that Tompolo has in the region. So if anybody goes to Abuja or Aso Rock to tell them they are in charge, those people are charlatans who just want to get crumbs. So, the earlier the better, the government of the day should drop all these political motivated charges against my father, engage him , work with him for the betterment of the region and the government of the day in general. Thank you