JTF RAIDS MEND CAMP, ARRESTS FIVE
Against the background of renewed violent activities in Bayelsa State, the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) has begun raiding camps believed to belong to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in the state and has arrested five militants.
The military action is in furtherance of the Federal Government order to the military to clamp down on acts of terrorism and resurgence of militancy in the region.
One of the new camps is reportedly located in Foropa community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state and controlled by one Keiti Sese, known in the creeks as Commander Nomukeme.
Recently, Nonukeme raised an alarm that the JTF was patrolling Foropa, alleging that he was the target because of the desperation of some ex-militant leaders to eliminate him so that they can continue the illegal oil bunkering business in the area.
In a statement issued and signed by the JTF Commander, Major General Charles Omoregie, the military action commenced in the first week of November and the camp was raided on November 8. Checks indicated that the JTF was stiffly resisted at the camp with exchange of gunfire that last about 10 minutes.
Two militants were however arrested while sophisticated weapons, a 3D seismic programme map used in monitoring routes of oil pipelines in the area and a list with over 36 registered members of the group recovered.
Among the items recovered at the camp were Identification cards of five militants believed to have embraced the amnesty programme. The names on the Identification cards include one Jacob Pere with amnesty card number BY/B3/910/09, Mary Yelaye with card number BY/B1/2090/09, Gbedi Sese (BY/B1/2080/09), Flower Shedrack (BY/B1/2089/09) and Sese Clement (BY/B1/209/09).
Omoriege said the military took the action following incessant complaints from the people of Foropa over the activities of Nomukeme and his gang. The JTF statement reads in part: 'Keiti Sese alias Commander Nomukeme 'mad man' had indeed become a thorn in the flesh of the Foropa and neighbouring communities
'Between May and October this year, the JTF received five petitions calling for the intervention of the force to check the criminal activities of Keiti Sese and his gang. The criminal activities listed by the petitioners include sea piracy, kidnapping, rape, pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering.
'The JTF also wishes to disclose that there are ex-militants, who after accepting the amnesty and benefiting from the goodwill of the Federal Government, have returned into criminality thus violating the amnesty deal. They have been advised to retrace their steps or face the full weight of the law.
'In the light of this development and the re-emerging threat of militancy, the JTF wishes to reiterate that the presidential amnesty ended a year ago. Therefore, people who continue to bear arms illegally and masquerade as militants or emerging militants do it at their risk. It must be stressed that lack of development can no longer be given as excuse for irresponsible behaviours, criminal and treasonable acts in the region.'