Ex-militants Elected as Lawmakers In Rivers State Assembly
The late President Musa Yar’Adua had in 2009 signed a Proclamation granting Amnesty to Niger Delta militants, who agreed to lay down their arms and embrace peace.
The deal offered an unconditional pardon and cash payments to fighters who surrendered their arms and assembled at screening centers located in many parts of the oil-rich region within 60 days.
It targeted up to 10,000 militants whose attacks in the six Niger Delta states cost the country a third of its oil production and revenue.
The amnesty which came to effect on Thursday, August 6, 2009, saw militant commanders, including Government Ekpemukpolo, alias Tompolo, Sogboma George, Ateke Tom, Farah Dagogo, Ebikabowei Ben, alias Boyloaf, Kile Selky Torughedie, alias the Young Shall Grow; surrendering their arms and returning to normal life outside the creeks.
But based on the result of last Saturday’s election released by the state Returning Officer, Faraday Orumwense, a professor of Material Engineering, the ex-militants are among the 25 candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, who won the poll.
The ruling All Progressives Congress was only able to win a seat in the 32-members state legislature.
Citing widespread irregularities and violence, Mr. Orumwense declared elections in six state constituencies inconclusive.
Among those who will be making laws for the oil-rich state are Farah Dagogo, an ex-general of a dreaded militant group.
Mr. Dagogo, an indigene of Tombia community was dragged into the race by the Degema Political Front, a frontline political group and he will be representing Degema State Constituency in the assembly.
Adoki Tonye Smart, who will be representing Port Harcourt 11 State Constituency in the new assembly was a former field commander and second in command to Soboma George.
Late Mr. George was a dreaded militant leader who was shot by a rival gang in the Old Port Harcourt Township, months after he accepted the government’s amnesty.
Chisom Promise Dike, who won the Oyigbo State Constituency seat in the assembly, is a strong ally of Ateke Tom, a self-styled General of the erstwhile Niger Delta Vigilante Forces.
Mr. Tom, now referred to as the godfather, has become an institution of sorts in Ijaw politics and has strong influence in Okrika land.
He even contested the PDP gubernatorial primary in the state but was trounced by Nyesom Wike.
Kelechi Nwogu, who will be returning to the assembly to represent Omuma State Constituency, is said to have strong links with some of the ex-fighters in the region.
Evans Bipi, the factional speaker of the 7th Assembly, who was chased out of the chamber while attempting to impeach Governor Rotimi Amaechi, with five other lawmakers, will be returning to the house to represent Ogu/Bolo State Constituency.
Mr. Bipi is a relation to Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan, and is also said to have strong links with Mr. Tom and other militant leaders in the region.
It was the House Leader, Chidi Lloyds, who stopped Mr. Bipi and his accomplices from going ahead with the plot to illegally remove Mr. Amaechi from office.
Mr. Lloyds had used the fake mace brought in by Mr. Bipi to thoroughly beat up and chase away the anti-Amaechi lawmakers from the floor of the assembly in 2013.
Mr. Lloyds, a strong supporter and friend of the state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, did not return to the assembly.
Other PDP member in the new assembly include Marshal Stanley-Udom who will be representing Abua/Odual, Okpokiri Okpokiri, representing Ahoada West; Jack Major, representing Akuku Toru 1; Tonye Alalibo, representing Akuku Toru11; and Ikuinyi Ibani, representing Andoni.
Others are Granville Wellington from Asari-Toru 1; Enemi George from Asari-Toru 11, Abinye Pepple from Bonny; Ngbulelo Israel from Gokana; Oguguo Anslem from Ikwere; Deeyah Bariene, Khana 1; Dinebari Loolo from Khana 11 and Amaewhule Chike from Obio/Akpor 1.
Also elected on the PDP platform are Michael Chinda from Obio/Akpor 11; Christian Ahiakwo from Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni 1; Uwaji Nathaniel from Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni 11; Dabotorudima Adams from Okrika; Ogbonda Nwene, Port Harcourt 1; Ihunwo Nyeche, Port Harcourt 11 and Ngbar Amulele from Tai.
The only APC candidate declared winner of the assembly poll is Josiah Olu, from Eleme State Constituency.
Mr. Olu, a staunch supporter of Mr. Amaechi, will be returning to the new house with a PDP majority.
However, elections to Ahoada East 1, Ahoada East 11, Emuoha, Etche 1, Etche 11 and Opobo/Nkoro were declared inconclusive.
INEC is yet to fix dates for the conduct of fresh elections in the affected areas.