The Federal Government has on Friday confirmed the gradual deployment of troops into strategic positions in the Niger Delta region and the possible option of force against members of the new militants engaged in attacks on oil and gas pipelines if the ongoing dialogue between the groups and representatives of the government fail.
Just as it unveils its sustained security plan in the region to tackle militancy and other criminal activities with the proposed recruitment of indigenes of oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta into local arm of the Joint Military Task Force, the government disclosed that it was setting up an emergency military brigade team to respond to attacks and engage the militants and trained Amnesty beneficiaries in intelligence gathering in the region.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammad Dan-Ali, while speaking in Yenagoa during a call on the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (RTD), confirmed that the military is engaged in special personnel rotation and deployment within strategic areas of the Niger Delta and that the newly formulated security plan and infrastructures for the region will be community driven with indigenes of oil bearing communities serving as Local JTF and intelligence components.
According to Mr. Dan-Ali, "During the last meeting with the Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo, it was agreed that the security arrangement must involve the people. I am here to show that the people of the community must be involved. As we have succeeded in the North-East with locals as Civilian JTF, we will involve such in the Niger Delta region. We will fuse them into the new security infrastructure for the region.”
“We are also to involve some of the ex-militants that have acquired training under the Amnesty programme in our security arrangement. We are paying them and expecting them to put to use some of the knowledge acquired under the local and foreign training. We also expected every other stakeholder to be involved in the arrangement. A special Brigade unit is also to be infused in the region."
Mr. Dan-Ali, however, noted that the success of the new security arrangement is dependent on the active involvement of States in the implementation. "The states must be involved to assist in detecting illegal websites that are used to distort and tarnish military operations in the region. It must be known to the State Governors that keeping Nigeria one is a task that must be done and it must involve all.”
On the possibility of the use of force against the Niger Delta militants if the ongoing dialogue with the Federal Government fails, Mr. Dan-Ali, responded saying ‘It cannot be ruled out.”
The Chief of Defence Staff, General A.G Olorunsekan, in a chat with newsmen after the call on the Governor, noted that the military are ready and in positions in the Niger Delta region, “We have allowed the ongoing dialogue between the Federal Government and the Militants. Our troops are in position. My message to the militants is to ensure they go to the negotiation table and we in the military will engage ongoing military infrastructures for the region.”
Earlier in his speech, the Bayelsa Governor, represented by the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah, commended the military for the efforts made so far in tackling issues of militancy and other criminality along the waterways and creeks of the Niger Delta region. He said, "The Niger Delta activities, whether negative or positive, is gravitating around Bayelsa State. Bayelsa will continue to collaborate with the security agencies and the Federal Government. Without security, there can be no development.”
“First, we want to ensure increased security activities in Bayelsa. A situation where our women are stripped naked along the water by sea pirates is pathetic. Our waters are no longer safe. We welcome the idea of the involvement of locals in the security arrangements. The locals have the navigational knowledge of the waters than the military.”