A dreaded and ‘most wanted’ kidnap kingpin in Delta State who doubles as leader of the new Liberation Movement of the Urhobo People (LIMUP) today gave President Goodluck Jonathan a stunning 60-day ultimatum to address the sufferings of the Urhobo as well as grant amnesty to kidnappers or face attacks on oil facilities in the area.
Known simply as Kelvin, the bandit, who wore a mask and was surrounded by members of his gang who were dressed in military fatigues, said at a press conference that if Jonathan failed to address what he described as the ‘gross marginalization’ of the Kokori community and grant unconditional amnesty to kidnappers, he will have no option than to shut down oil facilities.
Present at the occasion were members of the Kokori, Ethiope East Local Government Area community, who expressed admiration of Kelvin and his men.
“The reason why we are here today is because of the continuous cheating of our people by the Federal government. The federal and state governments have been suffering us and now we want them to hear us because for over 50 years now they have been drilling oil from our community (Kokori), which is the second best oil in this country.
“Yet we have nothing to show for it, the community has no road, they do wooden bridges in areas that need a formidable bridge that will last for a long time. There is hunger everywhere, graduates have no work. So we want the government to listen to us. In fact we are giving the federal government 60 days ultimatum to listen to us or else we will shut down all the well heads in the area,” he threatened.
Kelvin, who was declared ‘most wanted’ by security agents last year for allegedly masterminding a high profile kidnap and killing some security personnel, rejected the names he and his gang have been called. He declared them as being far from the truth, stressing that the mission and vision of his group is nothing but to draw the attention of the world to the criminal neglect of his oil-bearing community and the Urhobo nation.
According to the visibly angry Kelvin, “For over fifty years, they have exploited our land in the guise of oil exploration with nothing to show for it in terms of development. There are no good roads, no industries for the youths to work, our women and mothers cannot farm again because of the devastating effect of the oil exploration on our land.
“Fifty years of oil exploration has left our men prostrate without no meaningful source of livelihood. Most of them can no longer fend for their families and all attempts to draw the attention of the State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria to the plight of the community have been greeted by repression, so we have no other alternative than to bear arms against the nation, in order to drive home our demands since the only language Nigeria understands is violence.”
Asked Kelvin, “When the Ijaws and Itsekiris where agitating with arms, we the Urhobo youths chose to be peaceful, but what did we get? We are rather left out completely in the amnesty program. Is it not the same oil that the Ijaws and Itsekiris produce that is also produced in Kokori, which has the second best oil in Nigeria? So what is our crime?”
He said that his group does not fear the army, should the government want to send it in, warning that when his group is ready to attack, “no amount of security” can stop them as they have the backing of “top people” in Nigeria and abroad.
“The reason why they have been hearing of the name Kelvin is because of what I just told you now. I am the Kelvin; I am like two million Kelvin. I am not a kidnapper. What is happening as a result of our activities in the state and the country is for the federal government to know that we are angry,” he explained.
He warned that the cease fire and peace currently being enjoyed in Delta State was not the work of men of the Joint Task Force or of large numbers of security men parading the streets, but that his group had simply decided to give peace a chance by giving the State and Federal Government the benefit of the doubt.
However, he warned, “After this 60 days ultimatum, if we do not see any meaningful attempt by the authorities to address our plights, we would shut down all oil facilities in Urhobo land and there is no amount of security personnel that can stop us. I know I cannot fight the federal government alone but I will do things that will touch their marrow.”
He promised to “strike decisively and promptly with a devastating effect,” adding that his no empty threat as the people are behind his group in this struggle in this struggle, and to fear is to die many times.
“We have to take our destiny into our hands, since the Nigeria nation has failed us,” he said.
“The government must listen to us because while Boko Haram will be destroying in the north we will be destroying from this way. We will destroy all the well heads in the whole of Urhobo nation not only in Kokori after the expiration of the 60 days ultimatum. Then the Federal government will know that we don’t make empty threats. But we will remain calm within the next 60 days, but if they think we cannot do anything then they will hear from us after the expiration of the 60 days ultimatum.”
Several members of the community expressed their support of Kelvin and his dreaded gang. One, who pleaded for anonymity stated that they were throwing their weight behind Kelvin.
“Kokori is suffering,” he declared. “There are no jobs for the youths, graduates whom their parents borrowed money to see them through their tertiary education roam the streets with nothing to do and business has been very slow for our market women because there is no flow of income. What we want the government to do is to build schools, hospitals, banks and cottage industries that can employ the men and teeming youths of the community.”
Chief Saroke Edah and two other women who spoke on behalf of the women described Kelvin as God-sent, and backed up his complaints that despite their feeding the nation with their God-given oil wealth for the past 50 years, their community lacks good infrastructure and schools, as well as empowerment for the youths and women.
“We thank God for using our son, Kelvin to fight for our cause,” they said. “He is not a criminal, as the government of Delta State wants the world to believe. Him and his group are fighting for what is just, equitable and legitimate. Therefore, he should not be given a bad name. If the government had provided jobs for these youths and our husbands, would they take up arms to ask for what rightly belongs to them? Where the oil is found in Kokori, the land belongs to Kelvin’s grandfather and yet the family has nothing to show for over fifty years of oil exploration. Is this not injustice?”