President Tinubu has reportedly issued a directive barring all former Niger Delta militant leaders from visiting him at the presidential villa in Abuja. This decision comes in response to the visit of Mujarhedeen Asari-Dokubo, the leader of the defunct Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), on June 16, 2023.
According to reports from Leadership, President Tinubu’s decision was prompted by the public statements and actions of Asari-Dokubo following his visit to the president shortly after he assumed office. The president was apparently troubled by the “verbal vituperations and militant activities” of Asari-Dokubo in the Niger Delta, which were subsequently associated with him after the meeting in June.
Asari-Dokubo, during his visit, spoke out against the Armed Forces, accusing them of being involved in economic sabotage, including crude oil theft and vandalism of oil equipment in the Niger Delta region. These allegations reportedly shocked and embarrassed President Tinubu, particularly because Asari-Dokubo made these statements shortly after departing from the president’s office.
Sources within the presidency revealed that the president’s discomfort stemmed from the perception that he shared the same views with the ex-militant commander due to his proximity to him during the visit. President Tinubu was reportedly perturbed by the criticism he received from prominent Nigerians regarding Asari-Dokubo’s statements and actions, especially his public display of armed youths in Rivers State.
Asari-Dokubo’s conduct took a more concerning turn when he directed threats at the governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara. The presidency was further disconcerted by the association between the president and Asari-Dokubo, as it conveyed the erroneous impression that the president supported and endorsed such behavior.
To counteract this negative perception and avoid sending an undesirable signal to the public, sources in the presidency have disclosed that President Tinubu has made the decision not to host ex-militant commanders and militias in the villa any longer. This measure is aimed at preventing any recurrence of the fallout from Asari-Dokubo’s visit and its subsequent impact on the president’s image.
A source from the presidency stated, “The president has given a directive that he would not like to meet any Niger Delta warlord or ethnic militia after the horrible experience when he granted an audience to Mujarhedeen Asari-Dokubo. You know the man Asari is a strong supporter and adherent of Mr. President. But the management of the fallout of his visit to the Villa was a nightmare to the Presidency.”
The source continued, “Many Nigerians, who believed that his actions enjoyed the backing and support of Mr. President because of his closeness to him, have been pouring insults on Mr. President. It’s highly embarrassing and the Presidency decided that this mess has to stop. So, Mr. President will no longer allow these notable warlords, Asari- Dokubo would not be allowed into the Villa again to see him.