President Bola Tinubu has allegedly put an end to courtesy visits by former Niger Delta militant leaders to the presidential villa in Abuja, according to Leadership newspaper.
Citing sources, the report states that requests for visits by notable militant leaders and ethnic militias from the oil-rich region have been disapproved by the presidency. This decision is said to have been prompted by the visit of Alhaji Mujarhedeen Asari-Dokubo, the leader of the defunct Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, to the villa on June 16.
Asari-Dokubo’s public statements and behavior following his visit reportedly disturbed the president, leading him to question the alignment of his views with this influential ex-militant commander.
An anonymous source within the presidency revealed, “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.” The source added that Asari-Dokubo’s outspoken criticism of the military in the proximity of the villa exacerbated the fallout from his visit.
Recalling Asari-Dokubo’s post-visit actions, the source stated, “He came out of the president’s office to lampoon the Armed Forces, accusing its personnel of being the arrowheads of illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta.” Asari-Dokubo’s association with armed youths and his bold claims regarding his private army’s ability to challenge constituted authorities, including the military and the governor of Rivers State, further exacerbated the situation.
Despite these claims, Ajuri Ngelale, the special adviser on media and publicity to the president, denied any knowledge of the alleged directive. He stated, “I have not heard any of such speculation going around within the State House… we should avoid speculative assumptions that have no verifiable basis in fact.”
While the presidency has not officially confirmed or commented on these reports, they have sparked curiosity about President Tinubu’s intentions regarding engagements with former Niger Delta militant leaders and ethnic militias.