12 October 2011, France, PARIS- Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta and Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Committee, Kingsley Kuku has explained the circumstances surrounding the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to the dreaded militant den, Camp 5, in Delta State in 2009.
President Goodluck Jonathan who was then vice president had visited the dreaded militant den, Camp 5 to confer with ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and other Niger-Delta agitators.
Kuku, who was one of the three persons that boarded a presidential jet with Dr. Jonathan from Abuja to Warri and proceeded with a boat, guarded by militants from Escravos to the den, where former militant leaders from across the region were waiting for him, said it was to save the Niger-Delta region from being destroyed by the military.
The special adviser who spoke at a programme in Paris with the French Institute of International Relations, facilitated by the Hope for Niger-Delta Campaign, HNDC, a Non Governmental Organization, NGO, based in The Netherlands, founded by Comrade Sunny Ofehe., said that nobody, including the nation’s top security chiefs , gave him (Jonathan) a chance of returning to Abuja alive because of the fear of militants.
Kuku gave the glory of the final declaration of amnesty to the late Yar’Adua and said the former President had already given the military the red flag to commence a cleansing operation, but it was put on hold against security advice following the counsel of his deputy, Dr. Jonathan that he should be given a last minute opportunity to reach out to the leaders of the fighters.
“You cannot separate former President Yar’Adua from President Goodluck Jonathan in terms of the amnesty programme , we owe the glory of the amnesty programme to Yar’Adua, the military had been given the red flag to commence cleansing military operation in the Niger Delta when President Jonathan, against security advice, choose to go to the dreaded Camp 5.”
“The President told him, Mr. Vice President, you cannot go to the Niger-Delta, even Britain, everybody had written a no visit order to their citizens at the time. He (Jonathan) was given a last minute opportunity when he volunteered to go to the creek to ensure that without war, this matter is resolved. Against all odds, the President told him if you think the military should not be used, you go home and talk to your brothers.
Again, I was privileged to be one of the three persons that boarded a presidential aircraft without security with him from Abuja to Delta, took an helicopter to Escravos and from Escravos, went by boat, guided and guarded by the ex-agitators and their threatening guns and ammunition, we went to their camp and discussed, peace was extracted at that moment and we came back, by the time the vice president returned, so many people did not believe that he was going to return”, he asserted.
Kuku explained that it was Jonathan’s gallantry and peace that was extracted that emboldened President Yar’Adua to say, “Well it means it (amnesty) is possible, so let us proclaim it. It was actually a test proclamation that was made, it was Jonathan that actually counseled by physically visiting and ensuring that peace was extracted and we got about the Roadmap to Peace Committee, the Technical Committee on Niger-Delta and everything came on board and amnesty was proclaimed June 25”.
“Interestingly, our late President had an opportunity never to accept t or to accept he counsel of his vice president. But he accepted because he believed while he lived the fact that Niger-Delta had suffered so much and needed attention in terms of development. Today, he is no more, but two years of our marking amnesty, we gave him the glory”, he stated.