December 2010 Briefs

Publication: Militant Leadership Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 12


The Nigerian military is pursuing John Togo, the leader of the Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF) even more doggedly following a multi-assault of three bomb attacks on oil stations in the country’s troubled Delta State (AFP, December 18, 2010). Abuja has had an extensive amnesty program in place in recent years to coax and incentivize militant leaders to come in from the cold. While Togo’s NDLF is still at war with multi-national oil concerns and the Nigerian state, conversely Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV) leader Ateke Tom accepted President Goodluck Jonathan’s amnesty offer and surrendered eight NDV camps to the Nigerian army’s Joint Task Force (Reuters Africa, December 13, 2010). Ateke Tom’s seemingly wholehearted surrender of NDV infrastructure in the Delta may very well be a calculated play in his observance of the wrath that John Togo’s NDLF is currently experiencing. Togo and the NDLF continue to fight after the 2009 expiration of the wide-ranging amnesty from President Jonathan, himself an Ijaw hailing from what is today’s Bayelsa State in southeastern Nigeria. 

John Togo’s operatives attacked the Alero and Abiteye flow stations and the Dibi oil field operated by Chevron and Agip, a subsidiary of Italy’s Eni (The Daily Sun [Johannesburg], December 19, 2010). The NDLF claims it carried out the oil facility attacks in retaliation for the indiscriminate killing of civilians, perhaps as many as 100, in the community of Ayakoromor in the Yenagoa area of Bayelsa State where the army is carrying out “Operation Restore Hope” in which it has lost eight soldiers and is determined to bring Togo “to justice” (Port Harcourt Telegraph, December 16, 2010). Prior to the Chevron and Agip attacks, Togo had publicly warned that he would attack oil installations if the grievances of his militants were blocked from being aired in the post-amnesty political environment and the current “genocide” being carried out by the state against the Ijaw people in the Ayakoromor community halted (Vanguard [Lagos], December 8, 2010). Togo made good on his threat when the lack of response from Abuja was widely apparent. Nigeria’s oil production has yet to recover from pre-2005 levels when the troubles in the Delta became fairly regular occurrences. Nigeria still manages to produce some 2 million barrels of oil per day and that rate has been slowly but steadily increasing since the imposition of President Jonathan’s amnesty program whereby many militants laid down their arms. However, with irreconcilables like Togo still roaming the oil region and able to mount large-scale, coordinated assaults against joint Nigerian government-Western interests, an all encompassing peace is far from complete. Unlike Abuja’s successful co-opting of Ateke Tom and the peaceful demobilization of his NDV guerrillas in Rivers State, with Togo and the NDLF, the Jonathan government still has a long way to go as it tries to fight them into submission (AFP, December 12, 2010).  

A prominent Ijaw headman named Chief Albert Doutimiyebo in the area where Togo operates claimed that Togo is in the pay of local political actors in an inter-Ijaw feud aimed at discrediting President Jonathan (The Neighborhood [Port Harcourt], December 13, 2010). An NDLF spokesman, while not outright denying the allegation of collusion between local elites and the NDLF, called on Chief Doutimiyebo to publicly back up his claims against Togo.

In the latest military tactic at tackling the Delta insurgency, interestingly, the Joint Task Force is employing an environmental motive. Colonel Lawrence Fejokwu has appealed to local Ijaw communities to help protect “spillage” from oil pipelines and termed the purposeful damage to pipelines and flow stations in the area as “vandalism” rather than insurgency or terrorism carried out by various Delta militant outfits in pursuit of their stated political ends (Niger Delta Standard, December 16, 2010). The use of an environmental angle is the latest in series of counterinsurgency ideas as President Jonathan tries desperately to curb militant violence in Nigeria’s most economically vital region and his own ethnic homeland. 


It is reported that a jailed leader of the primary constituent faction under the umbrella of Kashmir’s hardline wing of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference-Geelani (APHC-G), the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH), used large sums of cash to further inflame separatist, Islamist-hued protests that rocked Srinagar this past summer. The months-long agitation led to the deaths of over one hundred protesters and the detention of several militant leaders including the APHC-G’s Masarat Alam (who concomitantly chairs the Muslim League, another subgroup of the APHC-G) who has revealed in an interrogation to Indian authorities that he helped to finance the protests (NDTV, December 16).
Alam claimed he disbursed over 4 million Indian rupees (approximately $87,000) to fuel the divisive environment over the course of four months of unrest and that monies were funneled to Alam from Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the octogenarian APHC-G chairman (Daily Excelsior [Jammu], December 16).

Geelani’s son, Naeem Geelani, recently returned from Pakistan to Srinagar to come to his father’s side in what some view as a possible preparation for succession at the helm of Kashmir’s largest mainstream separatist organization and also to stem the ascending power of Masarat Alam within the movement (The Telegraph [Kolkata], December 13). An unnamed police official in the Valley said of Alam’s ascendancy during the heat of the summer protests, “Alam is trying to portray himself as Geelani’s successor by showing that he is more hardline than Geelani himself,” indicating that Alam is maneuvering to head the most hardcore faction of Kashmiri irredentists should the elderly Geelani pass from the scene (Hindustan Times, July 8).

Additionally, a Press Trust of India report suggests that there may be an emerging connection between Alam and Indian Maoist rebel leader Kishenji, owing to striking similarities in terms of the political language and style between pamphlets circulated by each calling for severe protests in their respective regions. The connection, the report claims, is fomented by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (Press Trust of India, October 25). [1]

Masarat Alam had supposedly been commanding the revolt in Srinagar from several hiding places which befuddled Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) authorities until his arrest in October. J&K’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah refused to elaborate on how Alam was captured except to say that the 39-year-old was caught in Tailbal outside Srinagar and dismissed the notion that Alam’s arrest, or that of any other separatist leader, would have a direct influence over the ongoing crisis in the Kashmir Valley (Press Trust of India, October 20). Alam’s rhetoric, which he titled the “Quit Jammu and Kashmir Campaign”, was distributed on CDs and in printed pamphlets and helped turn a protest that began with the death of a Kashmiri teenager at the hands of security forces into a months-long uprising that was the greatest political unrest in the Kashmir valley in twenty years since the initial uprising against the Indian administration began in 1989-1990. Though Masarat Alam is now in custody of the authorities there, the root causes of the 2010 crisis have yet to be addressed to the satisfaction of the local population of Kashmir. There is no indication that another poorly managed security incident may cause the streets of Srinagar to erupt with rage once again.


1. For a full biography of Kishenji, India’s preeminent Maoist guerilla leader, see Militant Leadership Monitor, April 2010.