Rein In The Delta Militants Now



The resumption of criminal activities in the Niger Delta is worrisome and calls for action, real action this time on the part of the Federal Government and the Joint Task Force.

Last weekend, a criminal group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, not satisfied with stealing and selling crude oil in the creeks and high seas, blew up an Agip trunk line in Brass, Bayelsa State, resulting in the loss of 4,000 barrels of oil per day. It could really be more than that if we believe MEND.

The Joint Task Force disclosed that it has identified seven of the suspects involved in the Agip facility attack, though it is yet to effect their arrest. It urged them to report to JTF before noon on 12 February.

In a defiant manner, the group promised to carry out more attacks to embarrass the JTF, and responded to the JTF spokesman’s comments on the matter as ignorant.

The danger that the attacks portend for the country’s economy and security in the Niger Delta is better imagined.

MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo’s boast that the Nigerian military cannot halt their attacks on oil facilities and subsequent expulsion of western oil companies from the area, should be taken seriously.

We cannot afford another security threat, this time in southern Nigeria. If these rogue elements in the Niger Delta are allowed to unleash all their fire power on the oil facilities, the nation’s economy which is solely dependent on petroleum products will be terribly jeopardised.

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Though JTF spokesman, Col. Timothy Antigha has advised the general public to disregard the threat issued by the group, stating that amnesty had been granted to authentic militants, some of the ex-militants have often complained about the attitude of the presidential adviser on Niger Delta and coordinator of the amnesty programme, who they claim was not concerned about their plight. Some of these claims may be genuine.

While northern Nigeria is burning due to the regular bombings by the Boko Haram terrorists, threats to set fire to the southern part of the country is a worst case scenario anyone should contemplate. It is frightening.

The threat of the militants in the Niger Delta, that the seeming lull in its activities in recent times was a deliberate attempt to acquire more sophisticated weapons may be a pointer to the fact the amnesty and subsequent rehabilitation of the militants has failed.

As the Federal Government considers dialogue with the Boko Haram sect, it must not fail to look into matters concerning the Niger Delta militants whose threats should not be taken lightly due to security and economic concerns.

Jomo Gbomo, the MEND spokesman’s warning and demands should be taken as seriously as the one posed by the Islamic sect. Government must brace up to take the bull by the horn this time before it becomes as bad or worse than the Boko Haram bombings.

Taking up arms against the people for whatever cause should be discouraged. It is criminal to want to force the hand of government through the use of weapons and threats to cripple the economy. We have had enough of these rogue groups.

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