25 November 2011
Jeffrey James says he joined the militancy to make government pay attention to concerns in the Niger DeltaWARRI, 25 November 2011 (IRIN) - Frustrated by a lack of development and environmental degradation caused by oil extraction in the Niger Delta, Jeffrey James joined a militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, (MEND) and fought with them for seven years.
In 2009 he accepted the amnesty offered by the Nigerian government and has since undergone training in non-violence. He is now learning to do welding in a government-funded skills training programme for ex-militants, and receives an extra stipend from the federal government during training on top of the US$410 a month paid to all those in the amnesty programme.
“I joined the militancy in 2002 because I come from an oil producing area, but we have no development, no school, no water, no nothing. They dredged our river [Opuekeba Creek in
] and the sweet water is gone. The water we are drinking is salty, so people are dying and all the trees have died. Delta State
“The government used the money meant to develop the area for their families and themselves. “The best thing we could do was to join the militancy so the government would look at us.
“We destroyed oil pipes, and we would hijack and kidnap white people to make the government come and listen to us. When the government would come to talk to us we would release them.