The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, has ordered military formations throughout the Niger Delta region to move to take over criminal hideouts along the creeks and waterways of the region and use them as a launching pad for military operations against criminality and attacks on national assets in the area.
He was speaking Tuesday in Yenagoa during the formal operationalization of the 16th Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Bayelsa State.
He urged the people of the Niger Delta not to perceive the increased movement of troops and more military formations in the region as an act of invasion or intimidation, but as protection against crime and criminality towards desired development.
Buratai was accompanied during the commissioning of the headquarters of the 16th Brigade by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson and his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah. He noted that the approval for the setting up of over six military formations in Bayelsa Stae was done by President Muhammadu Buhari in fulfillment to the request made by his administration, adding that today was not just about fulfillment of promises but the realities of the times.
"Many security challenges have confronted us today that required a robust response and preservation of lives and human dignity. The protection of individual and critical assets through the wellbeing of Nigeria and those helping us aspire for prosperity as a nation. This, we will all agree with me, is the cardinal reason why governments exist. Unfortunately, the last one year, particularly in the Niger Delta region, have led to heightened security and attendant dwindling resources.”
He observed that many people in the Niger Delta have become victims of sea piracy, robberies, kidnappings, deadly rival cult wars and environmental hazards occasioned by the proliferation of arms in deep political divides and illegal oil bunkering.
“You will also agree with me that no government worth its salt will fold its arms and allow such brazen attacks on its citizens and national assets without doing something about it,” he declared.
“So, our expansion of the foot prints of the Nigerian Army in several states is one of the steps taken by President Muhammadu Buhari to stem the tide of insecurity in partnership with stakeholders in several more states.”
Buratai commended Governor Dickson for his administration’s support of the military with the allocation of more lands in Nembe, Sagbama, Yenagoa, Igbonege for new military formations, and charged the military to “take over the hide outs of criminals in the creeks and make [them] a charging point.”
Earlier at the Government House, Lt. Gen. Buratai noted the massive support of the Bayelsa State government despite the current economic challenges and assured that the army would reciprocate by working with other sister agencies to make the state safer.
In his speeches at the events, Mr. Dickson thanked Mr. Buhari and the Army Command for fulfilling the pledge of setting up the new brigade in the state, noting that it would further strengthen the security in the area.
Mr. Dickson, who formally commissioned the new 16 brigade headquarters located at AIT/Elebele Road, charged the Army Command not to allow the land for the permanent site of the brigade to lie fallow for too long. He also tasked the visiting Army Chief to set up good command schools and medical outfits to compliment the development drive of the government.
"As you are aware, our government has a very clear agenda on development, a very clear agenda on security, and a very clear agenda on promoting prosperity. And none of these can be achieved without first establishing a conducive, peaceful and safe environment," the governor said.
Mr. Dickson also welcomed the proposal to inaugurate a battalion in Nembe, saying it would completely end the skirmishes rampant in the area because of its coastline and its location as a major gateway.
The governor took the opportunity to hand over a written request asking the Army to send its personnel to provide technical assistance, by way of physical training, to students in the newly-built model schools across the state, especially the flagship Ijaw National Academy at Kaiama, in Kolokuma/Opokumalocal government area.