On Friday, June 17, former Niger Delta insurgent leader Asari Dokubo sparked outrage by accusing the military of complicity in the region’s oil theft and threatening to kill the Igbo in their numbers.
This severe threat and claim were made inside the presidential mansion, when he had gone to see President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He emphatically declared that some military cabals were neck deep in the unfortunate operation of oil theft in the Niger Delta, which has brought the country’s oil production to a halt, affecting total oil revenue and, as a result, causing untold economic hardship to Nigerians.
However, in a swift response to Dokubo’s allegation, the Nigerian Navy dismissed it as baseless and asked him to present evidence to that effect.
Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, Director of Naval Information, urged Dokubo not only to present evidence of his assertions, but also to name individuals he claimed were behind the criminality.
Ayo-Vaughan stated that the Nigerian military, particularly the Navy, has been at the forefront of combating crude oil theft at all levels throughout the country, emphasizing that those engaged in the heist took a two-pronged approach to the illegal activity.
“While crude oil was being stolen from pipelines and refined in creeks for the local market and buyers, it was also being stolen from offshore at sea by criminals.”
“Recall the case of MT HEROIC IDUN, which was forced to pay fines to the Nigerian government after being arrested and brought back from Guinea Bissau, Malabo Island, and forced to face court orders?”
“It demonstrated the Navy’s willingness to go beyond our waters to arrest a ship that attempted to load without a license or proper approval in April of last year.”
“I was on board one of our ships at FOT in Onne when the Navy launched ‘Operation Dakatarda Barawo,’ which means’stop the thief’ in Hausa–stop the thief who is stealing the nation’s natural resources, the hydrocarbons.”
“The Nigerian Navy has been fighting crude oil theft, taking the fight to the creeks, and our men are fighting in the creeks as I speak to you.” So I’ll just assume that Asari Dokubo is looking for some sort of importance or anything.
“He claims there is a cabal of military personnel involved in crude oil theft; let him bring the names.” Nobody is frightened of finding out who is involved in crude oil theft.
“You cannot make such baseless allegations and expect us to simply brush it under the rug,” he said.
According to the Naval spokesman, neither the Chief of Defense Staff nor the Chief of Naval Staff would condone such an act.
He vowed that the claims would not divert the Nigerian Navy from its efforts to combat crude oil theft and resource depletion in the Niger Delta.
“So, for anyone to claim that there is a cabal of military officers, the only simple thing to do is bring the evidence, as well as the names involved,” he said.
In the same vein, the Nigeria Army, through Brig-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations, has reacted, stating that the Army has been vigorously engaged in the fight against illegal oil-bunkering, oil theft, illegal oil refining, and other sundry crimes in the region, with positive results.
“And this has resulted in positive results, as evidenced by an increase in daily oil production per barrel from an abysmally dwindling output previously.”
“The Nigerian army has zero tolerance for any compromise on the part of our troops, and such acts of economic sabotage will not be tolerated.” If identified, no black sheep will be spared.”
Aside from accusing the military of being involved in the Niger Delta oil theft, Dokubo also insulted the Igbo, claiming that if it hadn’t been for British intervention, he would still be selling Igbo as slaves, just as his forebears did.
He further ridiculed the Igbo, claiming that their people are dying in large numbers, and implied that he and his boys were battling with IPOB supporters in states including as Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi.
“The Igbo people are unaware of their ancestors.” They have no regard for the person who purchased their father. You believe that every Kalabari man is the same. I’m not familiar with the Igbo. “If it weren’t for British intervention, I’d still be selling them the way my father did,” he said in the popular video.
Expectedly, Nigerians at home and abroad, as well as civil society organizations, agreed that he should be detained and tried for undermining the integrity of the Nigerian military and threatening one of the country’s three major ethnic groups, the Igbo, without provocation.
The demand for his arrest became so strong that there was even talk of him going into hiding. He was later determined to have performed Hajj in Mecca, the Muslim holy land.
Some Nigerians, however, backed him up on the alleged military role in the oil heist.
Those on this side of the debate demanded that the military come honest and defend their reputation rather than calling for his imprisonment.
In response to the Igbo threat, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, set the federal government a 72-hour deadline to arrest him or mobilize its members for a nationwide protest.
“Asari Dokubo must be arrested by the Department of State Services, DSS, or any other relevant security agency for his suspected link to the violent phenomenon of ‘unknown gunmen’ in the South East,” said its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko.
“The Nigerian Government must arrest Dokubo immediately, or the Federal Government will indirectly task Igbo youths, Igbo lovers, and Igbo groups that support the well-being of the Igbo people to launch peaceful protests at the same time.”
“HURIWA is giving President Bola Ahmed Tinubu 72 working hours to order the arrest and investigation of Dokubo over his suspected connection to the violent phenomenon of unknown gunmen in the South East, or HURIWA will call her members for a protest in Abuja next week.”
“Illegality must not be allowed to continue while security agencies pretend to be unaware or refuse to act.” Asari Dokubo should be detained. Nigeria does not resemble a banana republic.”
Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, compared Dokubo’s threat to an ant’s rant, emphasizing that the top Igbo socio-cultural organization will not respond to him.
“Asari Dokubo does not deserve a response from the Ohanaeze Ndigbo National Executive Committee; instead, we have a youth wing that will respond to him.” I’ll be lowering the Ohaneze NEC’s office to answer to Dokubo. “It doesn’t fit,” he said.
However, in response to calls from various sectors for his arrest, notably for the threat against the Igbo, he has dropped another bombshell, which looks to justify the position of those who believe he is too powerful for the police to touch.
In a viral video, he warned the federal government that arresting him would be disastrous for the country.
He dared the authorities to arrest him if they were not terrified of him. He threatened to shut down oil production if he was arrested.
Dokubo added in the viral video, “I am not afraid of arrest, but they will never arrest me because if they do, Nigeria will be history.”
He boasted that the last time he was detained, oil output was lowered from approximately 2,000,000 bpd to 70,000bpd, and warned that if the government dared to arrest him this time, he would ensure that not a single barrel was produced in a day.
“I am saying it boldly and clearly without mincing words that the result of my arrest is that Nigeria will be history,” he threatened. When I was detained the last time, oil production was dropped to 700,000bpd. It will be zero this time, and we will match violence with violence, intrigues with intrigues, bullets with bullets, and blood with blood. We’re prepared for them.”
However, after the video went viral, Nigerians expected the government to respond quickly with arrests and prosecutions, but this has not occurred.
The administration has retreated into its shell, presumably fearful of the implications of interacting with him.
Some argue that Dokubo has just demonstrated that he is too powerful to be touched by the law.
Those on this side of the divide would immediately think of the work of legendary English author George Orwell.
In his classic fable, ‘The Animal Farm,’ the author stated that all animals are equal, but in actuality, some are more equal than others.
That is where the country is right now, even though many people remain hopeful that the government will gather the will to act.
Others, however, believe that the government is engaged in a web of secret, which Dokubo is aware of, and that arresting him would cause him to spill the beans.
“The government will never arrest him, as he earlier boasted,” they added.
The Nigerian Police, through FPRO Olumuyiwa Adejobi, stated that the force was unaware of the viral video.
“I haven’t seen the video yet.” “I’m not aware of that,” Adejobi admitted.
Many people are still wondering how the country got to this awful position in the midst of Dokubo’s acts and reactions from both sides. Dokubo challenged the government to a duel for what reason? Nigerians have also reacted to a recent video in which Dokubo challenged the authorities to arrest him.
Pogu Bitrus, President of the Middle Belt Forum, said Dokubo was only gloating since the country’s institutions are so weak that no one is above the law.
“If we have a government and it is discovered that Asari Dokubo is committing crimes against the state, he can be arrested and dealt with.”
“No one, from the president down to the common man, is above the law.” So, in my opinion, he is simply bragging and boasting. That is his choice, but I don’t believe anyone is above the law.
“If he is following the law, that is fine; we are not supposed to victimize anyone as a people in this country, but to claim that he is above the law is a deception.”
“In the first instance, no one is above the law, but you see, when people feel they can do whatever they want in government and get away with it, people out there will do the same thing.”
“So now it’s up to the government to stand up and be the government that it’s supposed to be, because nobody is above the law,” he said.
Casmir Agbo, the Enugu State Chairman of the Labour Party, LP, believes Dokubo is an outlaw who should be dealt with according to the law.
Agbo considers his warning to the Igbo to be treasonous.
“What he said was treasonous. He is questioning the federal government’s power. He should be arrested and charged.
“For him to be carrying an AK-47 in public and on national television is a violation of Nigerian law.” He should be dealt with appropriately, but the main issue we have in this nation is that certain people believe they can act as they want because they are close to those in control; that is our problem.
“However, once you start dealing with people according to the law, they will take their time.”
“There is no justification for Asari Dokubo to be threatening the entire Igbo nation, saying that he killed them or was killing them ‘wotowoto’ and people are looking at him,” he said.
He also agreed with others who asserted that Dokubo is above the law.
“I regard him as a man above the law, and I am requesting that he be arrested, tried, and imprisoned by the Nigerian state if found guilty.”
“It’s really that simple. I have nothing against him, but boasting about killing many Igbo people and threatening that no one can catch him is simply too much.
“He should be arrested and questioned about those he murdered.” He should be prosecuted. “He is one of those causing problems in Igbo land,” he admitted.
Ikechukwu Onodi, a lawyer and public affairs expert, couldn’t agree more with Agbo, claiming that what Asari did was treasonable.
He also feels he has not been arrested because he has the government’s support.
“It is a statement that tends to have aroused this country’s sovereign authority.” It is the most heinous treasonable offense anyone can make, but was he not making that provocative speech even with the president behind him?
“This is not a statement that the average person can make and get away with.” He made it because he believes he can get away with it and no one will question him about it. That is the issue we are facing.
“The statement is treasonable and felonious, and he should be arrested and prosecuted,” he declared.
Similarly, the Igbo attorneys Association, an umbrella body of Igbo attorneys, has urged on the Acting Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to arrest and probe the former militant leader over his alleged threat to wipe out the Igbo tribe.
The group, which met in Aba, the capital of Abia State, said it would take time to wait for the authorities’ reaction to Dokubo’s inciting and ethnic move, but if no appropriate action was taken, it would use every legal means available to ensure that such issues were not swept under the rug.
In a letter titled “Threats/hate speech against Ndi-Igbo by Asari Dokubo: A call for his arrest and possible prosecution” and addressed to the IGP on July 6, 2023, the group stated that Dokubo should not be allowed to move freely after committing a heinous crime against the Igbo nation.