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For Former Niger Delta Militant, Peace Work Not an End to Violence

As kidnappings of foreign oil workers and attacks on oil facilities in Nigeria's Niger Delta continue to escalate this year, one former militant fighter has taken the risky step of denouncing the violence and becoming a peace worker. Kari Barber has more on his story from Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta.

Known as "Justice of the Peace" or Juju Priest, JP was a shoot-on-sight commander for a militant group called the Greenlanders.

He says leaving the gang has given him a new chance at life. "That woman (pointing), she is saying 'JP.' She is a good friend of mine. If I were still a militant, she would be afraid of me."

But working for peace comes with its own risks. JP attended the memorial service for a close friend, militant-turned-peace worker Casi Boate.

Friends say Boate let down his guard too quickly and a member of JP's old gang killed him in a retaliation shooting.

JP and Boate are pictured here with Judith Asuni, director of Academic Associates PeaceWorks. They were part of an elite advisory group on militant activities.

JP spoke at the funeral. "We never betrayed ourselves. We have been together in a time when we did not believe we could do it."

The advisory team is made up of peace workers and other former militants. Back in the office the next day, the team maps out a plan to discuss the region's unrest with newly-elected government officials.

JP says he cannot stop thinking about Boate, but he knows his friend would want him to be here. "I feel regrets sometimes because the people who choose to bring about peace are losing their lives."

JP is keeping a low profile, staying in a family member's home. He says his wife fears he could be next. "My wife is worried about me because she wants me to be alive for all time for her and our babies. And, I too, I would never like to leave this Earth until the day God says -- not by violence."

But the risks are not enough to keep JP off the streets, even if it means taking this path alone.