FEAR GRIPS BAYELSA COMMUNITY OVER JTF
Tension is gradually building in Foropah Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over the patrol of the community by men of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF). The natives suddenly woke up to see military gunboats and soldiers patrolling the community.
The presence of the soldiers is already sending jitters down the spine of some community people as one militant commander; Ketty Sese a.k.a Nomukeme is alleging that he was the target of the JTF.
Nomukeme, who disclosed that all attempts by him to surrender and embrace amnesty were frustrated by some ex-militant leaders, alleged that they had connived with the JTF to eliminate him. He stated he had been in the forefront of the fight against illegal oil bunkering in the area, adding that his death would not resolve the crisis in the community.
Nomukeme said when he was ready to surrender his arms, the state government ignored him and listened to detractors who manipulated the process. While expressing readiness to surrender his arms to the Federal Government, he appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to set up a panel of inquiry to look into the issues surrounding the crisis in Foropah community so as to resolve it.
But the JTF has dismissed Nomukeme claims as tissue of lies, as the security outfit was not after anybody but doing its constitutional duty of protecting lives and property in the Niger Delta region. The coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Centre (JMCC), Lt. Col Timothy Antigha, in an interview, confirmed the patrol of Foropah but quickly added that it was a normal thing the JTF was doing to ensure the area under its jurisdiction were safe.
According to him, the JTF did not need any permission to tell anybody when it wanted to patrol as it could even decide to set up camp in the community without any fear because it had nothing to hide. Antigha, who insisted the patrol was not targeted at anybody said the people should be happy that the JTF was patrolling the area.
He stressed that it was only those whose hands were not clean and those involved in criminal activities that would be scared to see the JTF patrolling. Antigha seized the opportunity to appeal to members of the community to go about their lawful business, as the JTF would not abdicate its responsibilities of ensuring that there was complete peace in the Niger Delta region.