Military will go after Niger Delta Avengers – CDS

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Gabriel Olonisakin
Gabriel Olonisakin

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, declared on Monday that the Nigerian military will go after the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers and stop the repeated attacks on the country’s oil facilities. ÎÎÎThis is as he cautioned that the military would not allow any person or group of persons to destroy the nation’s critical infrastructure, pointing out that the military was determined to tackle the situation frontally. Also, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Monday, declared that nobody will be shielded from military operations against militants sabotaging the nation’s economy.

Olonisakin spoke shortly after commissioning 12 refurbished gunboats and a 40-bedspace Brigade Gunboats Company at the Okrika Jetty in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State on Monday. He stated that bombing oil facilities was not the way to address their grievances, saying the militants were expected to put their complaints appropriately to government. The Chief of Defence Staff explained that government was exploring various approaches to ensure that the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta was resolved.

Olonisakin said: “An issue of this nature is multi-facetted and not just the military approach. The government is exploring all other approaches to ensure that these issues are resolved. “Military is looking at ways to resolve the issue of these bombings. “We, the military, have told them (Niger Delta Avengers) that this (attacks on oil installations) is not in the interest of the nation. When you bomb those facilities, those critical infrastructure, you are destroying our assets, our resources, as a nation. “This is not the way to address your grievances. If you have any grievances, you put them appropriately to the government. Of course, we cannot allow people to sabotage and destroy critical infrastructure. “We will go after them and ensure that we deal with the situation appropriately,” Olonisakin said.

He pointed out that the nation was challenged by multifaceted threats, including the battle with Boko Haram terrorists, oil thefts and attacks on oil installations. On the commissioning of the gunboats, Olonisakin expressed gratitude to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the assisting the military in putting the equipment in order. “The repair of these gunboats will no doubt improve the capacity of the brigade to meet its responsibility in curtailing criminal acts in our inland waterways.

“Let me at this juncture appreciate the support of the Niger Delta Development Commission in making these repairs realisable. We appreciate this strategic partnership and support,” he said. Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, described the dearth of serviceable platforms and related equipment as one of the greatest challenges facing the Armed Forces.

Burutai also described the Niger Delta terrain as peculiar, saying “In order to effectively discharge our constitutional responsibility, our troops require to operate in the riverine areas of the Niger Delta, thereby necessitating some boats and watercrafts. “The gunboats will no doubt boost that capacity of our troops to fight sea piracy, militancy, oil theft and growing insecurity in the Niger Delta. We will continue to ask for more. We know the challenges are quite enormous. “With continued support like this, procuring new equipment will further boost our operational capabilities. I am calling on other international oil corporations to toe the line of the NDDC to support the Nigerian Army and indeed the Armed Forces.”

Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that nobody will be shielded from military operations against militants sabotaging the nation’s economy. He stated that all Niger Delta governors oppose the use of violence to settle grievances, pointing out that the governors are billed to meet with the Vice President on June 7, 2016 to discuss and proffer solutions to the security situation in the region.

Wike made the declaration on Monday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, when he granted audience to the country’s Military High Command led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin. He said: “What is happening affects our state revenue. We shall help the military to fish out militants blowing up oil pipelines in the region”. The Chief of Defence Staff was accompanied by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.

He said that the State Government is worried about the resurgence of militancy in the Niger-Delta as it negatively affects development in the area. “As a government, we cannot support economic sabotage. What is going on is economic sabotage. Production is being negatively affected, with the revenue of states dwindling. “There are ways to channel grievances and it is wrong to do what will negatively affect the people of the region,” Wike remarked. He assured the Military High Command that the Government and people of Rivers State will support efforts to secure the oil and gas rich area.

While commending the military for the sacrifice they have made in providing security for most parts of the state, he urged them to work towards improving security in Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Abua/Odual and Ogba/Egbema /Ndoni Local Government Areas of the state. Earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin said the recent resurgence of militancy in the Niger-Delta is of serious concern to the military. “Recent activities of the militants have led to the sabotage of oil and gas infrastructure”, he said. He said economy of the nation is threatened by the resurgent militancy, hence the need to stop the insecurity in the region. Olonisakin urged the Rivers State Governor to reach out to his colleagues in the Niger Delta to resolve the conflicts in the area.

He said that the Military High Command was in the region to interface with the leadership of the Operation Pulio Shield and other service commanders on how to put an end to criminality in the region and protect the nation’s economy from total collapse.

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