political party, the African Democratic Congress (ADC), yesterday lamented the loss of innocent lives, including women and children, in the recent face-off between militants and the Nigerian Army in the Niger Delta region.

In a statement released in Lagos and signed by its national Chairman, Ralph Okey Nwosu, the party said although criminal activities of the militants were condemnable, shedding innocent blood of women and children and displacing whole communities through such military expedition would not stop militancy, but rather, instill hatred of the Federal Government in  people of the Niger Delta for bringing such disaster upon their already suffering people.

'The Military Joint Task Force (JTF) has stayed long enough in the Niger Delta to be able to identify the militants and kidnappers and attack them while avoiding civilians casualties.  It is obvious that after two weeks of military operation, the militants and kidnappers are still active while the main casualties are innocent Nigerians whose villages and communities have been sacked by the army.

“These villagers have become refugees in their own country and the young ones will forever hold the government responsible for their sufferings,' the statement said.

The party urged the Federal Government to put a stop to the military expedition and find a more acceptable way to deal with the criminal elements operating in the Niger Delta. The party also noted that the Federal Government shared in the blame of criminal neglect and injustice meted out to the people of the Niger Delta in the past 50 years and dismissed as half-hearted the attempts to ameliorate the situation by creating a Ministry of Niger Delta.

'The Niger Delta people have suffered for a very long time through the neglect by the government and the activities of multi-national oil companies which have damaged their environments. Ordering the army to attack whole communities in the guise of dislodging militants amounts to adding injury to injury,' the party said.