Delta communities are now literally at the mercy of the Joint Military Task Force, codenamed “Operation Pulo Shield” which, in the wee hours of Monday, invaded more Ijaw communities in search of vandals and militants bombing oil and gas facilities in Delta State.
The army were said to have disguised in various manners to invade the communities, amongst them Benikrukru, Kokodiagbene, Kurutie and Okerenkoko, all in Warri South West Council.
According to the JTF, the operations, named ‘Cordon and Search’, was aimed at unmasking the militants and vandals who had been bombing oil facilities in the region.
They advised the various communities invaded to produce the militants and vandals.
But the communities are in agony, lamenting the severity of the measures being taken the JTF.
Also, they are worried because criminal elements and political enemies of the communities may have cashed in on the state of confusion and fear in the communities to carry out attacks in the guise of troops.
Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Chairman of Kokodiagbene Community, said lives of residents said were no longer safe as people were subjected to untold hardship, adding that several number of missing people had not been accounted for since they ran into the bush.
He said they included students, elderly people and children.
“Their continuous visits are posing serious threats to the communities. We are living in bondage. Gbaramatu kingdom is hosts to oil and gas facilities and not to Avengers.”
Investigations show that the waterways have been blocked by the Army and the people are starving because they cannot go on fishing expedition and farming, their traditional occupations.
They also declared that the pipeline surveillance contracts were not awarded to the communities as the military is charged with such responsibility as such they should not be held accountable for vandalism.
They stated that they expect the military to man the pipeline routes to prevent further attacks rather than cozying up in well-furnished house boats.
“It is annoying to observe that within every 5 to 10 kilometer radius, there are security house boats and gun boats, yet illegal bunkering and vandalism are going on unabated. Who are they fooling?”
Former Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Pastor Power Ziakede Aginighan and Comrade Sheriff Mulade, advised the Federal Government to convoke an emergency stakeholders’ summit on the roadmap to peace in the Niger Delta region.
Pastor Aginighan and Comrade Mulade who stated this in separate statements, said the continuous failure of the federal government to address the issues of the debilitating burden on the Niger Delta region for shouldering the national budget will never end the breeding of more Isaac Boros, more Asari Dokubos, more Tompolos, more Boyloafs, more Ateke Toms and more Niger Delta Avengers in the Niger Delta.
On his part, President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) of Nigeria, Comrade Udens Eradiri, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider his administration’s stand on its continuous issuance of threat and using military might against the Niger Delta Militants, rather it should go to the creeks and dialogue with them.
Comrade Udengs Eradiri gave the charges during a launch of Olere Women Empowerment Initiative held in Benin City.
He said that the continuous use of the military in the Niger Delta region has led to the regular blowing up of oil facilities in the Niger Delta and that it is making the country to be losing a huge sum of money on a daily basis.
Udengs noted that there is no amount of conflict that cannot be resolved on the round table stressing that for the war against vandalism to be won, President Mohammadu Buhari must go to where the Militants are in the creeks and dialogue with them.
According to him, “I think the President must wake up. He must take the bull by the horn. Obasanjo started Coaster Meetings when the situation was terrible, he did not send anybody, he called everybody. Yar’Adua woke up from sick bed, he did not call anybody. The President needs to get up.”
Udengs pointed out that the President must also be humble enough to meet with the past presidents of Nigeria and find out how they were able to manage such situation when it first arose years back.