Niger Delta militant, Ateke Tom, who claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s bloody attacks in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was yesterday declared wanted by the government.
Oil price surged yesterday to about $100 a barrel – in response to the attacks.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi gave Tom’s kinsmen in Okrika two weeks to produce him or face the wrath of the government.
In a swift reaction last night, Tom vowed not to give himself up. He said he was ready for the governor whom he claimed has been gunning for his life since coming to office.
Amaechi gave the ultimatum when he visited Okrika where he met with the elders and leaders of the community.
A visibly angry Amaechi said the situation whereby some people held the state to ransom could no longer be tolerated.
He said nobody could breach the law and expect to go scot-free.
Amaechi’s ultimatum may not be unconnected with Tuesday’s bloody attacks in Port-Harcourt; 11 people including four policemen were killed in the attacks.
The governor said no responsible government would watch public peace being breached at will as Tom and his gangs were doing.
“No responsible government will fold its arms and allow miscreants a free reign,” Amaechi said.
On New Year’s Day, 11 persons, including four policemen, were killed when militants stormed Port Harcourt. They killed a man at the government-owned Hotel Presidential, Tom claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Tom derided the ultimatum, saying: “The governor wants to play with the lives of the people. He wants to destroy the state.”
He claimed that there was peace in the state before Amaechi took over from Celestine Omehia last October 27.
“What have I done to him (Amaechi). What’s his problem?” Tom asked.
“He wants to take my life. During former Governor Peter Odili’s tenure, I used to meet him at the Government House. At such meetings, he refers to me as Abiye Sekibo’s boy. I understand that there’s a problem between him and Sekibo. That’s why he wants my life.
“With the aid of the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF), they came to my house on December 10, 2007; took away my properties and burnt down my building. I am now fighting back. I am in the creeks. Is he the only governor? He should give me back my properties if he wants peace. They should also return the N5.4 million they took from my house,” he said.
Tom absolved his arch-rival, Asari-Dokubo, of being part of his travails. “I don’t know if Asari-Dokubo has a hand in my ordeal. I’m ready for the governor; I’m ready for anybody. Tell the police to steer clear. People should go indoors by 8p.m. Who is he to tell my people to produce me?” he asked.
Tom said he would not surrender to Amaechi but would honour any invitation from the President.
“If the President invites me, I will go. Why not? I will go because he is our father,” he said.
Also yesterday, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Felix Ogbaudu, called for police assistance in his command’s efforts to rid the state of criminals.
Ogbaudu, who spoke in Port Harcourt, said his men would not relent in the battle against crime in spite of Tuesday’s attacks on some police stations.
His call came even as Senator Heineken Lokpobiri pleaded with militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta to sheathe their swords and channel their grievances through the appropriate quarters.
Lokpobiri, who is representing Bayelsa State, is the Senate Committee Chairman on Sports. He counseled the militants against taking the law into their own hands, even with their genuine complaints.
The Police boss said: “Security is a collective responsibility and we appeal to the people to assist us in this regard.
“We need the support of the people to succeed as we fight against crime and other social vices in the state.”
The commissioner expressed the hope that this year would be more peaceful than 2007, which he said, witnessed violent crimes, that claimed several lives and property in Rivers.
“When there is peace, development takes place, economic activities return to normal and more youths become employed in the process.
“That is why the command wants the people to assist us to make the state a violence-free one this year,’’ he said.
Ogbaudu has alerted the people on the activities of two young men posing as his sons and duping people of huge sums of money.
He said: “I have received information about some persons who claim to be my sons, collecting money from people, whose cases, are being investigated by the police.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I did not send anybody on such mission.
“Anybody who wants to see me should come to my office or through the police public relations officer as we run an open-door administration in the command.”
Ogbaudu said the police had begun investigation into the matter and urged the people to give information that could lead to the arrest such persons.
– The Nation