Continued from -Admiral John Bull (2/3)
During the weeks that followed, Uncle began opening up to me about the operations of LAND. For the first time he also criticized diaspora activists. “You can’t sit down over there in obodo oyinbo and begin to talk about the issues that people in creeks are facing. When I heard you were coming over, I was pleased. You must acquaint yourself with the raw politics of the struggle. It’s not your fault, that you are elite. In fact I commend you for coming down here to get the concrete correct facts on what’s happening from the real players like myself.” I was aghast at the number of seemingly innocent government officials that had taken part in procuring illegal weapons through LAND for their criminal political purposes. Uncle had been betrayed by people within his circle, who were jealous of the entrepreneurial successes of LAND. He had created his own mini empire, complete with a crowd of loyal followers.
Uncle seemed uneasy over breakfast one Sunday, I didn’t know what was wrong, he fell into these moods sometimes when Coat-of-Arms messed up or delayed transactions. I waited until Abel had cleared the table and Uncle had relocated to the sitting room before I asked him what the matter was. He remained silent for a prolonged while, he didn’t have to tap the seat beside him, I went and sat beside him.
“Tamara, I am a marked man” he wiped his clean-shaven head from the back to the front, “my days as the leader of LAND are numbered” he then burst into a laugh. I imagined a group of traitors laughing as he laughed his group-sounding laugh.
“That’s the truth” he said.
I didn’t know where to look, so I kept my head down, my arms remained crossed, and I think I was unconsciously toying with the hem of my left sleeve. I could feel he was looking directly at me, it made shivers run down my spine. He remained silent for a while, and I just sat there struggling for the news to sink in. I was trying to think of what next to say, but my thoughts weren’t coming together. “You can’t surrender now” I blurted.
He chuckled, “the end is almost near, I have to believe that, so I can carry myself with pride for my last days as a free man”
“Why do you sound so certain, what if they grant you amnesty, I mean you have the most brilliant lawyer in the country, why are you talking like this” I didn’t know when I increased the tone in my voice. I rose up from the chair. He sat reclined in his seat, with his left arm folded and squeezing his chin with his right hand. With the barest of emotions, he listened to my monologue. At a point I lost control and accidentally screamed “what about the struggle?”
“Tamara, calm down” he whispered. He covered his face with his hands, and this time he wiped his head from the front to the back with both hands. He adjusted himself in the chair, and then he began to speak with his hands clasped behind his neck.
“Tamara, there was a time that I believed I was championing a cause. Look, I admired Gen. Omuna. That poor man must be turning around in his grave right now. How could his very own Perewari Oruye , become this Admiral, Admiral John Bull, or whatever I call myself.” He sucked his teeth “Tamara, I was fighting for the emancipation of my people, but I am not strong enough, temptations here and there. We set up a clear game plan, see the amount of youths I mobilized, ehn. But how do you fight your oppressors, if your own oppressed people betray you. Yes, that’s what they are doing. You don’t know who is who these days. Not every Ijaw man wants the liberation of Ijaw people, if his interests are at stake, bye-bye to Ijaw freedom. That Chief. Douglas of a man, he has the power to make substantial changes in this place. But what is he interested in, amassing wealth for himself, not so? What is LAND? Liberation Army my foot!, These boys that join us, if I didn’t tell them they were oppressed, you think they would know? We are not freedom fighters, O. My dream to liberate our people died years ago. And it is a shame, Tamara, I am ashamed at this path I took. I was once like you, longing for change in this place, hoping for a revolution.”
I was not surprised when two weeks after our conversation, I heard the news of his arrest on Radio Bayelsa. It was just after Mama Abel had taken her children to school. I was home alone, eating the yam and eggs Mama Abel had prepared for me, when the voice on the radio began to speak “Admiral John Bull, the leader of the militant group, Liberation Army of the Niger Delta, LAND, has been arrested” I stabbed the yam in my plate, and managed to splatter some oil on the jug of juice in front of me. The newscaster continued “Admiral John Bull, whose real name is Perewari Oruye was arrested on his way to his hometown in the Southern Ijaw local government area. He has been accused of treason and the dealing of illegal weapons.”
Uncle got detained in Abuja. I had thought his incarceration would bring Wellington and me closer, but the mistrust still hangs daintily in the air. I had flown to Abuja to see if I would be allowed to visit Uncle, but I was denied access to him. Wellington seems to be hesitant about my idea to carry on with the publication of the article. Of course, in the typical Wellington fashion, he did not verbalize this, all he said to me was “it is bad timing”. Uncle should have thought twice before making him his second-in-command. I’m concerned about the future of LAND and what it could deteriorate into, with Wellington as the acting leader. Exactly three weeks after Uncle’s arrest, the trial had still not begun, but I received a letter from Uncle via Wellington, and it has put some of my worries to rest.
I am sure my arrest did not come as a surprise to you. There are some things that I want you to do for me, as my present situation doesn’t permit me. I dedicated more than two decades of my life to the struggle of the Niger Deltan people. We haven’t arrived at our destination, though the journey took some immoral bends. I can find peace in saying that I have brought the plight of our people to more ears. In a state that has no respect for dialogue, there is not point pursuing a civil approach, if they respond only to violence, then so be it. Tamara, I gave you the names of government officials who have taken part and assisted in the arms deals. Everything I told you, work on publishing it. You would have to go back to the UK, and I want to know that you are safe. I don’t know what they intend to do with me, but I wouldn’t go down without a fight. You have the contact details of the lawyers on my case. Barrister Wokoro as you might now know, is a man I trust my life with. When or IF I go down, I have great confidence in you two to take down all those miscreants who are feeding off the struggle.
I beg you, if this is indeed your calling, to continue and march onwards for the liberation of our people. Keep your eye on the victory. In the words of the great General ‘neither imprisonment nor death can stop the ultimate victory’
A luta continua! A vitória é certa!
Yours in the struggle,