In a bid to tackle the renewed militancy in Niger Delta which has disrupted oil production, the military may soon begin a special operation in the region.
Already, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, Commander of the Joint Force (Operation Delta Save) Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie and other top military officers have visited Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, to seek support and inspect facilities for the planned move tagged a�?Operation Crocodile Smile.a�?
The weekenda��s visit of the military chiefs came on the heels of threats by some militants under the auspices of the Adaka Boro Avengers, to secede on August 1, coupled with the frustration of the Federal Government to identify the real people to negotiate with as the main militants group. The visit also came two days after the Army said it would not hesitate to take a military option in the Niger Delta if dialogue with the militants failed.
During a courtesy call on Governor Seriake Dickson at the weekend, Dan-Ali said he was in Bayelsa State to seek the support of the government and communities in putting an end to the frequent attacks on key oil installations.
While saying that the visit was to prepare a new ground for the new operation, the minister told the governor that most of the security personnel in the Niger Delta would soon be moved to other regions, while those from other places would be deployed in the region. This, he said would be done constantly and continually to prevent security personnel from getting involved in illegal activities.
The minister, who disclosed that the military was training a special brigade to assist in the region, solicited assistance from the state government, especially in identifying illegal websites used by those he described as elements who seek to destroy the unity of Nigeria.
According to him, efforts are on to incorporate beneficiaries of the Federal Governmenta��s Amnesty programme in the fight against pipeline vandalism.
a�?We are here to look for peace, but we are also preparing, in case the peace and negotiations are not favourable. We are also, on our own side, making all the arrangement so that there will be peace in the Niger Delta. We cannot rule out force.a�?
Olonishakin said the army was ready to do anything possible to ensure peace returns to the oil rich region. a�?The military has a constitutional duty to ensure that there is peace and we are here for peace, and whatever we need to do, we will ensure that.a�?
Dickson renewed his earlier call for the establishment of special brigades of the Nigerian Army in the state, with a view to curbing criminal acts and contributing to the overall peace and stability of the Niger Delta.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd), Dickson noted that the creation of two battalions earlier approved would not only assist in securing the nationa��s critical assets in the state, but reduce response time in the event of any security challenge.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd) has announced the continuation of payment of the monthly stipends today.
Boroh, who is also the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, made the announcement yesterday and appealed to the ex-agitators in the region to shelve the planned protests slated for today.
A statement made available to journalists in Akure, the Ondo State capital by the Media and Communication Officer of Amnesty Office, Abuja, Mr. Piriye Kiyaramo, pledged the commitment of the coordinator to the welfare of the ex-militants.
Boroh, who expressed great concern over the plight of the ex-agitators in respect of their delayed stipends, maintained that a�?President Muhammandu Buhari appreciates your patience, the hiccups in the payment of their stipends are already being addressed.a�?