N'DELTA: ARMY SET TO STOP MILITANCY
Militants in the Niger Delta are in for a tough time as the military through the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) is set to take the battle to the creeks.
According to sources within military intelligence, following a fresh mandate given to the army by President Goodluck Jonathan, the new operation, known as new Order of Battle, would commence in the Niger Delta any moment from now.
Already the special squad to implement the operation is on stand-by and would be deployed to affected areas as soon as possible to realise the mandate of the president. Sources said the army needed to move in on the issue in time so as to prevent anything from derailing the 2011 elections and endanger democracy in Nigeria.
Security chiefs were said to have expressed worry that if the threat of resurgence of militancy was not quickly resolved, it was capable of triggering crisis, particularly with some disgruntled politicians set to exploit the situation to create chaos in the country.
Meanwhile, The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) has declared that no amount of provocation would make it spill innocent blood as part of its efforts to stamp out militancy in the Niger Delta region. The media coordinator of the JTF, Lt. Col. Timothy Antigha, in a statement titled 'No Provocation will make JTF Spill Innocent Blood' pointed accusing fingers at those who had attempted to rubbish the efforts of the security outfit to stabilize the region as those encouraging militancy for selfish motives.
The statement reads in part: 'Following the rescue of 19 hostages from the fangs of a notorious gang of renegade militants and the subsequent apprehension of this same gang, there have been shameless attempts to deny the remarkable achievement recorded by the JTF in this regard. The charlatans behind this campaign to discredit the JTF are those currently masquerading as 'stake-holders' and 'initiators of NGOs' to help Niger Deltans.
They have over the years hijacked an otherwise genuine struggle to feather their own nest. Consequently, the prospect of a quick end to the standoff in the Niger Delta, employing a combination of military operation and dialogue where necessary, has opened a spectre of loss of revenue, relevance and reckoning. Hence, the desperate attempt by these sponsors to sustain the militancy, even at the expense of the Niger Deltans that they claim to be 'emancipating'.
'The JTF is aware that the current spate of denial of its achievement is part of larger plot to provoke a brutal crackdown which could lead to subversion of its personnel, especially those from the Niger Delta and ultimately undermine its cohesion as a fighting force. The JTF will not fall victim of this cheap blackmail aimed at making it spill the blood of innocent Nigerians, just to prove any point. The JTF is aware that a handful of criminals and their sponsors are the ones hiding under anonymity of the cyber space to spread fear and falsehood. These few are the real enemies of the Niger Delta, not the JTF.
In a related development, an ex-militant leader, Eris Paul, a k.a Ogunboss, has said the Ex-militant Leaders' Forum in Bayelsa State was not part of any military operation against resurgence of militancy in some parts of the state and the Niger Delta region.
Ogunboss, in a statement to clarify the position of the Ex-militant Leaders' Forum on the recent visit of the JTF to their former camps and resurgence of militancy in the region, said the ex-militant leaders did not discuss the operation of the security outfit as it was not a division of the Nigeria Army.
He said insinuations that that ex-militant leaders were parts of the military operation was capable of causing disaffection within the ranks of the ex-militant leaders on one hand and between it and the JTF on the other hand.
While reiterating that the forum would continue to support the amnesty process, he said their support did not involve policing and search for regrouped militants in the region.
Meanwhile another frontline ex-militant leader, Timi Ukparisia, .a.k.a General Africa, has advised those considering returning to militancy to jettison the idea in the interest of peace in the Niger Delta region. Africa, in an interview, said instead of going back to militancy, all ex-militants should look for ways to ensure that total peace returned to the region.
He seized the opportunity to condemn recent destruction of Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) pipeline in Osiama field, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, adding that warnings had been passed to all communities that recurrence of such incident would incur his wrath as those involved would be fished out and handed over to the police.