Amid mounting controversy and public outcry over the visit of Alhaji Mujarhedeen Asari-Dokubo, former leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, to the presidential villa on June 16, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reportedly banned all ex-Niger Delta militant leaders from visiting him in Aso Rock, Abuja. The decision comes as a response to Asari-Dokubo’s public remarks and actions after the visit, which allegedly embarrassed and shocked the President. During his visit, Asari-Dokubo accused the Armed Forces of involvement in economic sabotage, including crude oil theft and vandalism of oil equipment in the Niger Delta region. This accusation reportedly sparked concern and unease within the presidency.
Sources within the presidency revealed that the fallout from Asari-Dokubo’s visit and subsequent actions prompted President Tinubu to distance himself from former militant leaders and ethnic militias from the oil-rich region. Requests for courtesy visits by these notable figures have allegedly been declined by the presidency. Asari-Dokubo’s strong support for Tinubu in the run-up to the 2023 presidential election added to the complications of his visit. His public statements and association with the President reportedly fueled negative perceptions and backlash from the public, leading to the decision to prevent further interactions with former militant commanders.
The presidency aims to avoid the creation of an unfavorable impression and disassociate from any provocative actions or utterances attributed to these ex-militant leaders. However, President Tinubu’s special adviser on media and publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, stated that he was not aware of the issue and denied any knowledge of the President’s directive on the matter. Despite the denial, sources within the presidency confirmed that the decision to restrict interactions with former militant leaders has been taken to address the negative fallout from Asari-Dokubo’s visit and statements.