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My grouse with Amaechi – Ateke Tom

Posted by By EMERSON GOBERT, JR. on 2008/08/05 | Views: 1726 |

My grouse with Amaechi – Ateke Tom

Leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante Force and “godfather of Niger Delta militants,” Mr Ateke Tom who has been declared wanted by the Rivers State government has given reasons why he could appear before the Justice Kayode Eso–led Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission even as he insists, he has unfinished business with state governor Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.

Leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante Force and “godfather of Niger Delta militants,” Mr Ateke Tom who has been declared wanted by the Rivers State government has given reasons why he could appear before the Justice Kayode Eso–led Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission even as he insists, he has unfinished business with state governor Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, Ateke said that he has reconciled with other militia warlords in the region including his former deputy, Soboma George. He also gives tips on how the crisis in Rivers State can be resolved but perhaps, most importantly, the fierce-looking militant sensationally talks about his grouse with Gov. Rotimi Amaechi.

Ateke Tom speaks pidgin English smoothly hence this interview is rendered in special English which allows him ample freedom to articulate his points and thoughts at supersonic speed. The interview is heavily edited because of the profuse libel which punctuated Ateke’s aggressive responses and rendition. He says he has a secret which he will squeal someday and everybody will be shocked why he is at war with Govenror Rotimi Amaechi. An unrepentatnt militant, he opts to die than surrender himself to the Rivers State government. “God fibid! Surrender for wetin? I no be Niger Delta son? Why I go surrender for the struggle? I no go ever surrender. I must fight for my people. I must fight to save my people,” he swore. The whole encounter is as serious as it is dramatically comic.

Why have you not appeared at the Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission like Asari-Dokubo and others?
Dem declare Asari-Dokubo wanted? Dem no declare am wanted and dem declare me wanted and to tell you the truth, I no love the governor. I no trust the governor. That’s why I no go appear there but if dem wan ask me anything or wan do anything, make dem come where I dey. I go tell dem where I dey. I no fit come out there when him declare me wanted then I come out come talk something. E no go good.

Okay, if dem wan contact you now, how dem go take get you where dem no go come make trouble with you?
Ah, when the time reach, dem go come when dem wan come.

You and your former deputy, Soboma George, una still dey fight?
I no think say I get enemy again for everywhere because me and him na brother. Since him leave me comot, now him don come back. We don reconcile. We don make peace. We no go fit fight again.

Wetin you dey do make lasting peace come dey for Rivers State, especially, for Bonny Island now?
Wetin dey happen for Bonny Island sef? Eh?

Dem say na so so trouble, cult-related violence and kidnappings.
We sef dey look for ways to stop am too because all of us wan put head; everybody wan put head make dis things no dey happen again. Anywhere e dey from come, make e no dey happen again. That’s why we dey settle ourselves. We dey call truce for ourselves.

Wetin you think say we fit do make dis militancy and other cult-related violence come stop for dis Rivers State? Wetin you suggest?
We dey talk about militancy. The militants wey dem dey talk, by any name wey dem like, make dem call dem. We, we dey for the struggle –we are for the Niger Delta struggle. Na the thing wey America take come out. Everybody know, make dem give us our right. Dem know wetin dem suppose to do for us. This no be the starting. We don the talk am since. Everybody know wetin dey cause this militancy. From that strugle to this our Niger Delta struggle wey we dey say so, some people don take am dey do criminal things and that one, we know. So we dey look for way to stop this thing that’s why we call truce for ourselves because the thing dey embarrasse us.

Everybody dey talk struggle, struggle and different, different groups come full ground. For your own, wetin be the struggle? What are you fighting for?
I dey fight for my people. I be freedom fighter for the Niger Delta struggle. That’s why I say some people dey use am as criminal something now.

Asari say him dey fight for him people. Everybody say him dey fight for him people and we all come see say na the same people we dey fight for, na him make I ask you.
Exactly! Exactly! But dis small, small boys come dey use am dey do rubbish and dem come say na for the struggle and if you watch well sef, may be dis people dey come from Abeokuta dey operate for Niger Delta. Some, when you look dem, they are from Ikwerre; from Hausa just like that. You see, dem put problem for my head so I’m getting our people to know wetin dey happen and try to stop dem.

When you say, these small, small boys, who do you mean? You fit name them?
I no even know name but our problem be say to stop all dis boys dem, we go fit do am but na the governor na him dey cause problem for Rivers State now. If not so, nobody.

How him take cause problem wey you dey accuse am so?
Nothing wey I do for Okrika wey I spend one hundred and something million. Immediately him enter government, he say make we go fight Ateke; we must kill Ateke. Where that money dey? Others no dey carry gun? Dem do anything? Na him be the first governor of the state? Everybody dey aware of that thing. Why I no go accuse am? No be him scatter my property?

You dey in touch with leaders of other groups so –like Farah?
If I phone Farah, I phone everybody. I don tell Farah make we try make peace for Rivers State because the problem dey too much and I dey call different meetings everyday so that everybody mind go dey clean for everybody, but na the governor, na him be the problem of Rivers State. If not so, I dey call everybody for peace; make dem ceasefire; make dem no do anything again; make we make peace for our state.

Dem dey gree for you when you talk to them for phone?
Yes, everybody agree now.

You dey call yourself “Father of Militants in the Niger Delta,” wetin make you call youself that kind name?
Na the struggle. In fact, dem call me godfather wey be say I pass militants. Dem call me godfather because of the way I dey face the struggle; the way I dey take carry people dey go; the way wey I dey take help people; the way I dey take address people. So na people just decide to call me godfather for that kind of something. E no dey easy to forgive Soboma. E no dey easy to forgive dat kind person because most of the problems wey I get, people say na Soboma cause am for me. Me sef, I forgive am. I say if God dey forgive us when we offend am, why me I no go fit forgive fellow human being? Which kind power I get? I forgive am too. So they call me godfather because I sabi forgive people.

As Amaechi don come declare you wanted now, how you come react to that kind statement when you no be thief?
Na him I dey talk now. Make the world see am now. Nothing just happen. Him people just plan to kill me because of small deal wey dey for pack wey me and them never reveal and with this Truth and Reconciliation something, e go make me talk something; e go make me reveal some things wey make dem wan kill me. That’s why I say make una go ask governor say, why dem wan kill Ateke? If him say Ateke na militant; if you say Ateke dey struggle for Niger Delta, that’s why they wan kill am, what of other militants wey dey waka dey do rubbish there? Why him no go after dem? Ask am the reason why they say they wan kill Ateke. Ateke don do many things for him community. He spend money. Instead of saying, ol’ boy, thank you – o, it’s my tenure now as I come so; thank God say time still dey. Na so the man suppose to behave but him sef carry himself, plan with dem, begin dey destroy things. So, make dem ask am why him dey look for me?

When we see am, we go ask am but since na you and him know this thing, wetin be this small thing? Make you talk am now.
No, no be now. Na dat Truth and Reconciliation Commission when I go talk, I go open everybody yxxsh wey I know. Na him I go talk why him dey pursue me. Na dat time I go talk.

Now wey you no wan go there, how I fit tell dem make dem come meet you so that you fit talk this thing wey you wan talk?
Na Abuja, dem no go? Dem no know as dem take reach Abuja? You know say former governor of Rivers State, Odilli. How many years since him comot as him just comot, na Amaechi take over now and that time, Amaechi na Odilli boy by then but now wey Odilli comot, Odilli fear to come talk for Rivers State. Abiye Sekibo was secretary of Rivers State before. As him comot, him come be minister. Now, as him be minister, himself fear dis their man wey dey siddon with dem, say dem no go come because him no dey straightforward. Dem fear to come talk for Rivers State wey dem from. Dem tell dem say make dem come Abuja. Na there dem go fit dey comfortable. Dem fit talk anything wey dem wan talk. Na me, na him go come come out? You no see say him arrest one guy wey go the commission, put am for prison because him know say him go talk everything. If Amaechi really say him want peace, make him bring am out.

So if person come ask you say wetin really be your offence for your own papa land wey make government come declare you wanted, wetin e fit tell dat kind person?
Na him I tell una, nothing now! Everybody know say nothing wey I do now! Because I come out dey waka, dey make peace for everywhere, call everybody dey advise dem. That’s why dem say make Amaechi talk wetin I do. Person wey dey do good for people na him come say I dey smash this transport something for Bonny. I never pass that level? Wetin I wan carry passanger money do? I no need passenger money.

Dem don rumour say you dey plan to come out come surrender to government. Is it true or not?
God forbid! Surrender for wetin? I no be Niger Delta son? Why I go surrender for the struggle? I no go ever surrender. I must fight for my people. I must fight to save my people.

But for how long big man like you wey believe in the struggle to liberate your people go fit still dey hiding as dem dey chase you up and down like small pikin?
We dey look now. No be everybody no get sense now. As the government bad like this. If no be so, Amaechi for don come for peace now. Everywhere for don waka well. Him wan punish me because of wetin me and him get. Him dey think say I go reveal am. So him wan punish me for dat one. Wen him comot, I go still come out or if him no comot, another person come too, na their concern. E no concern me. I go go fight for my people.

If dem come ask you wetin come be your own position on the entire Niger Delta problem wey dey ground, especially for Rivers State, wetin go be your own suggestion?
If you talk about Rivers State, dat one no be problem. Make dem empower the boys. At least, make dem put dem for work, those wey wan learn work, learn work; those wey wan go school, make dem put dem, then we the leaders, dem fit say, abeg, as things take happen like dis, make una be like dis, go for so so place, go rest small so dat those wey dem put for work go concentrate on their work wey dem put dem because as we still dey, dem go run come dey worry us but if we commot out of the country, then the work wey dem put dem, dem go now begin to do am. I believe say dat one go bring the entire peae and my place wey dem spoil; where Amaechi spoil, dem go pay am too. All those things fit bring peace.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.