A paid newspaper publication supposedly sponsored by some former freedom fighters in the Niger Delta region is now causing ripples across the region, as some of the persons whose names appeared there as signatories have denied knowledge of the publication, describing it as journalistic fraud.
This is coming just as the president of the umbrella organisation of all the former militants who accepted amnesty under the first phase, Pastor Reuben Wilson on Friday announced his resignation as leader of the forum of ex-militant leaders.
He said in a statement that he had to resign because he could not work with people whose conscience can easily be bought by those he described as selfish power mongers who had no respect for their fathers and leaders.
Already, two of the former militants, ‘General’ Nico Sintei from Akwa Ibom State and ‘General’ Dari Koro from Bayelsa State said in separate interviews on Friday evening, that they knew nothing about the publication and demanded an apology from those behind it.
In the said publication, an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, the authors had accused the Minister of State, Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, of plotting to remove the presidential adviser on amnesty, Prof Charles Dokubo.
They also accused Sylva of working in consonance with some PDP heavyweights in Delta State to frustrate Dokubo and ensure that he was sacked. Specifically, they accused Sylva of holding a meeting with a certain David Otuaro, whom they said was related to the wanted Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, as part of efforts to dislodge Dokubo.
According to them, Sylva’s actions were inimical to the president’s dreams for the Niger Delta. They urged the president to warn Sylva to stop further actions against Dokubo so that the peace in the region would not be punctuated.
But some hours after the publication was made, the former freedom fighters said they were shocked to see their names in the publication, even though they knew nothing about it. Sintei, whose name appears as part of the signatories said “this is fraud. It is impersonation. I want you to tell the whole world that I knew nothing about that publication.
“If they don’t apologise, I will not take it kindly. My name has been used against my wish. I don’t know anything about that write-up. Somebody told me they saw my name in Vanguard newspaper, that I joined in writing a petition against Sylva.”
In a separate interview, Wilson who is president of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, the umbrella body for leaders of the various former militant groups said it was disappointing for him to have found the names of his colleagues in the newspaper.
“When I drew their attention to the publication, they were shocked. They confirmed to me that they did not know anything about the publication; that nobody even consulted them before they went ahead to include their names.
“I have disowned any of them who may have conspired against true sons of the Niger Delta like Sylva and Tompolo. If anybody was paid to ridicule Sylva and Tompolo, it will not be well with such people. I have spoken to some of the people whose names I saw there and for the person who did this, judgement day is approaching soon.
“We cannot show this kind of disregard to our leaders. Sylva is our father. If anybody has any issues with Tompolo or with Sylva, they should settle it by themselves and not try to bring in these freedom fighters. We are not happy at all about this. Those guys whose names they used there are my people. I am their leader. I totally condemn the fraudulent publication and the criminal use of my people’s names in the said publication. We will go to court on this matter.”