Hunter locates Militants’ “Boss” in Lagos, escapes death

Hunter locates Militants’ “Boss” in Lagos, escapes death

Even with all information he had, DNDR’s operation looked steeped in mystery to him as it did many other people. They attacked oil facilities at will and their leader had yet to be unveiled. Hunter knew that to tell a compelling story, he must unravel the unknowns.

Hunter was most curious about the identity of the DNDR’s central leader. At least there must be someone who cleared the various statements and press releases and managed their website. Lucy would have been very helpful in identifying the leader or coordinator, but he had lost contact with her. She had said she was going to see her people and she called on arrival in Port Harcourt, but since then her numbers had gone dead. He felt if the lady she saw in the camp was the same Lucy he knew, she must have been brainwashed.


To his surprise not even the media reporting the crisis daily revealed the leader’s identity, which was a subject of intense speculation. Not even the oil companies were helpful. They knew the various commanders of the DNDR, such as Boyd, but not his nameless, faceless boss.

Hunter dug through The Hub’s archive files in search of names and photographs for clues. He managed to identify one person of interest, but the man had died several years earlier.


All he knew was a faceless man called Uka, who was rumoured to be the leader of DNDR. He decided to try Boyd for a lead. He called him again and repeated his text messages to him. Unsuccessful and tired, he dropped the phone and engaged the search engine on his laptop. Shortly after, his phone buzzed. He flipped it open to see that he had received a text message –





Hunter wasted no time. The phone rang briefly on the other end before a voice came on to say it was a non-existing number. That sounded funny, but as soon as he dropped the mobile on the table, wondering what to do next, it rang. He picked the phone reluctantly and looked at the screen for the caller’s identity. It was an unknown number.

“Hello,” he said casually.

“Good evening, Mr Hunter.”


“Boyd? Is that you?”

Boyd laughed. “I’m impressed,” he said. “You have a good ear for voices.”

“I hope you contacted me because you are willing to help me,” Hunter said.

“A man we will call Panya would like to speak with you,” Boyd said.


“Who is this?” Hunter said. “Is he a DNDR member?”

“He can tell you all about himself when you meet.”

“When are we meeting?”

Boyd laughed. “I appreciate your enthusiasm, Mr Hunter.”


“It’s all part of my work, Boyd,” Hunter said.

There was a pause on Boyd’s end of the line.

“You are familiar with the Windsor Hotel in Ikeja?”

“I am.”

“Tomorrow evening at nine o’clock, you will go to the hotel and sit in the lobby.”

“Yes?” he said.

“Bring with you a copy of The Evening Mail.”

Hunter rolled his eyes. “C’mon, man! I write for The News Hub!”

“Oh, don’t be so touchy.”

Despite the seriousness of the conversation, Hunter couldn’t help but smile.

“Sit in the Windsor Hotel lobby and read the center spread of The Evening Mail,” Boyd repeated. “Panya will find you.”



( ( ( ( (



The human traffic had calmed considerably in the lobby of the Windsor Hotel since Hunter first arrived. He had come earlier than instructed and ate dinner in the restaurant. He thought it might seem odd for a man to walk into the hotel lobby off the street and just sit down and start reading a newspaper.

Besides, he wanted to scope out the area for possible familiar faces. He tried to appear casual as his eyes surveyed the environment. Many people were milling around, eating their meals before leaving to go out for the evening. Hunter didn’t recognize anyone who might be interested in the DNDR. Most of the Windsor’s clientele were older than the young, muscular militants he had seen with the belts of ammunition strapped across their chests.

After paying his bill, Hunter nonchalantly strolled into the lobby with his briefcase in his left hand and a copy of The Evening Mail tucked under his right arm. He took a seat in a comfortable overstuffed chair, pulled out the center section of the newspaper, and flipped it open in front of him. He was still a few minutes early for his meeting, so he decided it couldn’t hurt to see what The Evening Mail had to say about the crisis in the Niger Delta.

As it turned out, it didn’t say much. In fact, the Mail merely puked out paragraphs that were copied directly from the Reuters and Associated Press wire services. Hunter was pleased The Hub remained the leader on the story; even though they tactically held back some the details for his exclusive feature stories.

The clock behind the concierge’s desk chimed nine. A split second later, a deep voice startled Hunter out of his thoughts.

“I hope you enjoyed your days in the camp.”

Hunter quickly dropped his newspaper into his lap and looked at the tall man in the tailored suit standing before him. His eyes wandered over to the concierge’s clock.

“Promptness is a virtue,” he said.

“It’s good to have at least one virtue in life,” the man said.

Hunter started to pull his tired frame out his chair, but the man motioned for him not to bother. Instead, he made himself comfortable in the adjacent chair.

“You are Panya?” Hunter asked.

The man casually crossed his legs. “Actually, my name is Klen,” he said.

Hunter’s eyes widened.

“I have been told that you’ve been trolling around Lagos asking about me,” Klen said.

“Yes, I have,” Hunter said, “although I haven’t found too many people willing to speak to me. Most of my information comes from reports posted on the Internet, which probably makes it all common knowledge, and open to questions as to its accuracy.”

Klen nodded. “I may be the man you are seeking. And I would be happy to chat with you. I don’t have much time, though. I have to catch a late flight to Europe.”

“Not to South Africa?” Hunter said.

“No,” Klen said. “Europe.”


( ( ( ( (


Up in the Windsor Hotel’s suite number 313, Hunter and Klen had the privacy they needed to speak freely.

“I hope you understand that I will only speak off the record,” Klen said.


Klen sat forward in his chair. “Well, let’s see what you have on me thus far.”

Hunter reached into his briefcase, pulled out a legal pad covered with scribbles, and handed it to Klen.

Klen perused the notes. “Place of birth: Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria—that’s correct. Educated in the Nigerian private school system—yes, I was; a background in marine engineering—yes, I have; strong passion for war games, on the computer, yes. Nice work so far, Mr Hunter”

Hunter shrugged. He recognised the sarcasm.

“Yes, I did spend some time in the Nigerian Navy and later became a licensed gun salesman. And yes, I did move out of the country to set up a foreign base.” Klen studied the next section of information with a stern expression on his face. “Did you speak to my family?”

“No,” Hunter said, “but I managed to put together some notes regarding your upbringing through various sources.” He noticed the intense look in Klen’s eyes. “Did I get it right?” he asked.

“Impressively so,” Klen said, his eyes returning to the paper.

Hunter had learned that Klen was the fourth of nine children born to a Navy officer. He and his siblings had what could best be described as a very British upbringing. He grew up in Lagos, where he spent his youth attending private schools and reading comic books.

“I’m told that your first visit to the family home in Bayelsa at the age of twenty was rather shocking for you,” Hunter said.

“It was quite an eye-opener,” Klen agreed. “There was so much poverty and distress going on, and I had been very fortunate to grow up shielded from the worst of it. The abundance of wealth around the globe is held by the smallest percentage of people. It seemed to me that for some people, being rich was not worthwhile to them unless someone else was poor. Do you know what I mean?”

Hunter nodded. “The money feeds the stomach, but the power feeds the ego.”

“Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to meet some wealthy men of great conscience,” Klen said. “Unfortunately, there are way too many wealthy men with over-nourished egos.”

“I assume that is why, despite your privileged background, you belong to the most militant group in the Niger Delta,” Hunter said. “I now have a question that will help clarify the overall situation that has led to the uprising.”

Klen sat back and waited.

“If you should say something like, ‘They don’t really care about us,’” Hunter began, “to whom would you be referring?”

Klen drew in a deep, careful breath as if to place emphasis on his response. “Successive governments from the military era.” He spit out the words as if they left a bad taste in his mouth. “That is the entity that depends on the milk cow for survival, but then refuses to feed it.”

“The problems in the Niger Delta are not caused by the governments alone,” Hunter said.

“Certainly not,” Klen said. “The oil companies, which operate behind military cover, destroy our environment. Then they hand out peanuts in the name of ‘community development,’ which is insulting, to say the least.”

“Anyone else?” Hunter wondered.

“Our corrupt politicians, of course. They get the money and look the other way. Many of them have no clue what is going on in their areas. They are more than willing to take the money, and in return, never bother to ask.”

“I’d like you to tell me about the DNDR and its philosophical origins,” Hunter said.

“The philosophy is simple, Mr Hunter. If you do bad things to others, bad things will happen to you.”


Klen shrugged. “Yes, I guess it’s pretty similar.” Klen uncrossed his legs and sat forward. “I don’t know how much I really want to talk about this,” he said.

“Let’s try it this way,” Hunter said. “I will make a few statements, and you can tell me if they are true or false.”

Klen looked apprehensive, but he nodded.

Hunter began in a professional tone. “The DNDR is not so much an organisation, but an idea into which many civic, communal, and political groups, each with its own local specificity and grievances, have bought.”

“True,” Klen replied. “I think that’s an accurate statement.”

Hunter continued. “The founding core of the DNDR’s membership is derived from a clan, which was in the eye of the storm in the 1997 local government crisis, and then subsequently bore the brunt of the helicopter gunship attack of February 2006.”

“Partly true,” Klen said.

“The DNDR is a collection of many armed militant units that evolved over the years from the Warri crisis, each of which has its own commander. The commanders are bonded by the common motive of stopping the exploitation of the Niger Delta and its people. All the units are connected by a sophisticated communication system that includes mobile phones and Internet links to a central coordinating unit, which is in charge of the transmission of all information to the international public.”

Klen scratched his chin. “I can’t say I would express it that way.”

“How do you think it would be accurately expressed?” Hunter asked.

Klen shook his head and checked his wristwatch. “Let us continue please,” he said.

Hunter nodded and continued. “The role of the coordinator is strengthened by his intelligence, experience, and leadership skills. It also helps that he has some rich experience in arms sales.”

Klen smiled, but his discomfort was obvious. “Again, I’m not sure I would agree with your choice of words.” He abruptly stood and walked over to the telephone. “I am ordering some refreshment from room service,” he said. “Would you prefer tea or alcohol?”

“Whatever you are having, sir,” Hunter said.

“We’ll be better off with tea,” Klen said. “Alcohol can adversely affect a man’s intelligence.”

Klen remained standing, occasionally pacing and looking out the window, not speaking another word. Hunter took the hint. The man wanted to take a break and get his thoughts together.

Hunter waited as patiently as possible when Klen suddenly excused himself

“Please give me a moment,” he said. “I need to pack for my trip.”

Before Hunter could respond, Klen disappeared into the bedroom.

As it turned out, Klen did not speak again until after the tea arrived and the waiter left the suite. When Klen finally emerged from the bedroom, he presented Hunter with a small flag.

“This represents the DNDR,” he said.

Hunter was impressed by the beautiful image of an eagle flying free on a blue background. “Thank you, Sir,” he said. He gave it one more admiring look before he carefully folded it and slipped it into his pocket. “Now, why would the DNDR defend a corrupt former governor who looted the state treasury?”

Klen took a sip of his tea and then carefully placed the cup down on its saucer. “When you are given two negative choices, you must go for the one with the comparative advantage,” he said. “The struggle has its own way of detoxifying itself.”

On one level, Klen’s logic amounted to the end justifying the means. On another, getting in bed with a known thief put a dent in the DNDR’s credibility.

“The DNDR’s goodwill is derived from support for the victims of tragic events of the past. You express opposition to government corruption, as well as disgust over the government’s collaboration with oil companies.”

Klen nodded. “The oil companies still operate behind military cover. For me, that is the one sign, the reliable indication, that things are extremely bad out there.”

“How bad are they?” Hunter asked. “Can they get any worse?”

Klen finished his tea and pulled himself out of his chair. “I’m sorry, Mr Hunter,” he said. “We have run out of time. I need to catch up with some business before I leave for my flight. I will grant you the opportunity to ask one final question.”

Hunter remained seated. “Thank you, sir,” he said. He thought carefully, ensuring that his final question was an important one. “From my investigations and reliable sources, I have learned that you are the leader of the DNDR. You also double as its Director of Communications in charge of writing those emails that are sent to the media. Some of them are very poetic.”

“Mr Hunter,” Klen said as he turned away toward the window, “you need to re-check your facts. Members of the DNDR do not know the identity of the organisation’s leader. They only know their commanders.”

“That may be true,” Hunter said, “but I know more.”

Klen turned back toward Hunter, smiled, and extended his hand. “Good luck, sir.”



( ( ( ( (



Upon leaving the hotel, Hunter considered what he’d learned. He was sure that Klen was the DNDR’s highest-ranking official, but he had no absolute confirmation. Hunter wondered if that was for security reasons within the organization or personal reasons within Klen’s own wealthy family.

Driving back to the office, Hunter felt a creepy feeling at the back of his neck, that familiar feeling that warned of impending danger. He suspected that he was being watched. He glanced in his rearview mirror and noticed a black car occupied by two men moving conspicuously close behind. Hoping not to appear conspicuous himself, Hunter manoeuvered his vehicle slyly through traffic. It soon became abundantly clear that he was being trailed.

With the sound of the bullets that shattered his rear window in Port Harcourt a few weeks prior still rattling through his brain, Hunter desperately tried to shake the following car off his trail. Unfortunately, his stalkers were well-trained.

Hunter slipped through a yellow light just as it turned red at a busy intersection, leaving the following car stuck in traffic. He was just about to congratulate himself on this small victory when he saw from the rear mirror that a second car had taken up the pursuit.

Hunter instinctively headed toward the airport road, hoping the confusing traffic patterns would end the chase, but instead, it actually got worse. After a few turns and jukes, the first car had relocated him and was latched onto this rear bumper.

He sped through the airport entrance and made a sharp left turn when his ears were assaulted by a loud explosion. He looked back and saw the pursuing car engulfed in flames as it somersaulted into a nearby ditch.

The second car was nowhere to be seen. Hunter let out a deep sigh, turned at the next exit, headed home.

As soon as he pulled into his driveway, his phone buzzed. He had received a new text message.



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