Militants fought for their rights,Boko Haram is fighting for nothing – Ateke Tom

February 8, 2015 6:29 am

is a former militant leader in the Niger Delta..In an interview with Punch, he opened up on why they were different from Boko Hram and should not be labelled .

How is life as a repentant militant?

Life here is better than the life I once lived in the creeks because I
now enjoy free movement and I see my family. I do businesses and I’m
free to embark on other gainful ventures outside the creeks. In the
creeks, we didn’t use to drive cars, but outside the creeks where we are
now leading a normal life, we drive our cars and do other things that
will benefit us and the society at large. So, we are comfortable outside
the creeks.What was life like in the creeks?

It was tough there. We were bitten by mosquitoes, but the difference
then was that we were not deterred from continuing with the struggle.
Our mind was constantly on the fight to liberate the Niger Delta region
from marginalisation.

 Many are casting aspersions on the ex-militants for accusing Boko
Haram of acts of while they () were also
guilty of the same act

It is wrong to describe the struggle we embarked on then as an act of
terrorism. We were not terrorists; we were freedom fighters because we
had a reason why we were fighting. You can remember that when amnesty
came from the Federal Government, we embraced it. Everybody was aware of
the reason behind the struggle. The international community and other
relevant bodies were aware of the reason for our struggle.

What was the reason for the fight?

We were fighting for our rights. We have the oil; we have the resources
being used to feed . But they did not want to give us anything
and that explained why we were fighting. They refused to employ our
people; instead, they (government) brought in foreigners to work in oil
companies while we were suffering. That was why we determined we would
fight our cause and make the authorities realise that we were not happy
with the situation of things. We needed employment; we needed to work.
We needed good hospitals, good roads and other social amenities, but
there were none. We had to embark on the struggle to make them realise
that we were being marginalised. 

Everybody knew that we were fighting for our rights. The Federal
Government called us and asked us why we were fighting. When the late
President Musa Yar’Adua called us, we came out to tell him and Nigerians
why we were fighting and they reasoned with us and asked us to cease
fight. We accepted and embraced amnesty. 

But in the case of , why have they refused to come out? What
are they fighting for? Who are they fighting for? They (Boko Haram)
members should come out and tell Nigerians why they are fighting. So, it
is not right to compare us with Boko Haram. What is stopping them (Boko
Haram) from telling Nigerians the reasons they are fighting? President
Goodluck has called on them several times to come out and tell Nigerians
their grievances, but they have refused to do so. So, we are not
similar to them.

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