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Emma Amaize, The Vanguard, 2 July 2008

MOVEMENT for Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) has confiscated the stool of a royal father in Bayelsa State alleged to be sponsoring sea bandits and also captured seven of the suspected sea pirates. The royal father himself bolted away. One of the captured sea pirates is the commander of the group, while the second one, identified as Kingsley is the manager.

Reports said the high command of the MEND was unhappy with the activities of the sea bandits who specialized in robbing fishing trawlers and other ocean-going vessels around the Pennington River in Bayelsa because of the credibility problem it had brought to the Niger-Delta struggle. The last attack of the sea pirates was on two fish trawlers, belonging to a Lagos-based company.

The seven suspected sea pirates were said to be in custody in one of the MEND camps in the Niger-Delta as at yesterday and four of them reportedly confessed that it was the royal father that is their godfather.

Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta , Brigadier-General Nanven Rimtip confirmed when contacted that militants in the Niger-Delta clashed somewhere in Bayelsa State over some undisclosed matters and the leader of one of the groups was  allegedly “kidnapped” by the other group.

But a MEND commander who admitted that the suspected sea pirates were actually being held by the militant group said the royal father was on the run.

“Yes, we sent out our fighters to confront the sea pirates when we got information that the boys were robbing fishing trawlers, they attack them, extort money from them, sometimes, they disconnect trawlers and carry the whole thing away. You see, all these things they are doing is spoiling the struggle and people think that it is the MEND that is doing it.

“Our information is that a man who claims to be a royal father is the one that is bankrolling them and we went there to confront them after we got report of what was happening, that was after they just robbed a trawler, belonging to a company in Lagos.

“Some of the sea pirates had run away before we got there but we got some people, among the seven with us, four of them are believed to be involved in sea piracy but from the confessions, we think the other three are not deeply with them”, he said.

Vanguard learnt that some of the items that were stolen from the fishing trawler were found in the residence of the purported royal father and that was why his stool (seat) was carried away.
One of the senior operatives of the MEND who was privy to the action said: “Yes, we carried away his seat, he is not even a royal father, we know the authentic royal father of his area, but, he is going about deceiving people that he is one and denting the struggle”.

He said it was the monarch that sent the sea pirates that killed a naval officer, early this year, and the MEND was not happy with such activity.

“We are also aware that he used to send his boys to catch white people and they demand ransom”, he added.Asked when the MEND would hand over the detained sea pirates to security agents, since it had no power to hold them, he said, “We will deal with them in our way, they are fellow Niger-Deltans, but, we cannot handover them to the security agents because we don’t trust them and we don’t know what they will do with them thereafter”.

“In fact, how can you  suggest that we should hand them over to the security agents, we cannot do that, we just hope that after dealing with them, they will change and stop robbing people because the struggle is not to rob people.

We have reasons for blowing up pipelines in the Niger-Delta, it is not we are animals, but, the government has turned us to animals and slaves in our own country, we have been pushed to the walls and we are telling them enough is enough of the marginalization and oppression”, he explained.
He said they would be released in due course after the MEND would have finished with them and educated them on what the true struggle is all about.

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