• Use of force won’t work – Dickson
SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
‘Operation Delta Safe,’ the joint military force deployed to the Niger Delta, on Wednesday reacted to threat from the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to declare a Niger Delta Republic on August 1.
The NDA had also said that it was prepared to take on the Nigerian military.
In what appeared to be a reaction to the threats posed by the claims, the military said that it was adequately prepared to deal with the renewed violence by militants in the region.
Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, Commander of the operation, said during a press conference that the military has the capacity to flush out militants but was compelled to respect the dialogue option adopted by the federal government.
It will be recalled that the Defence Headquarters had scaled down the military option and declared a ceasefire in order to pave way for dialogue with the militants.
A few days ago, President Muhamadu Buhari told the outgoing German Ambassador that the federal government was in talks with the Niger Delta militants.
Rear Admiral Okojie said that the operation enjoyed the support of the military top brass and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces and has been effectively curtailing collateral damage to oil infrastructure in the region.
He urged the media to be objective and professional in reporting the security challenges in the Niger Delta region, as the military will continue to keep its mandate of providing a safe environment for economic prosperity.
“We have seen reports emanating from faceless sources that tend to compromise national security in the mainstream media and want to restate our commitment to the mandate given to Operation Delta Safe,” he said, noting that the mandate does not include engagement in propaganda with anyone.
Affirming that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is “sacrosanct,” he implored the media to rise to the occasion and subject their security related stories to the dictates of their professional ethics.
Meanwhile, The Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, has rejected the Nigerian Army’s threat of force if dialogue with militants in the area fails.
Mr. Dickson said that would not be the best way to solve the crisis in the oil-rich region.
The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, had on Monday warned that the government would resort to military action if Niger Delta militants refuse to use peaceful means to press for their demands.
A new group, Niger Delta Avengers, has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on oil and gas installations in the area.
Mr. Dickson advised that ongoing efforts at talks should be sustained.
“I have said that the issues in the Niger Delta, the terrain, the historic nature of the issues and challenges are such that military solution may not be the way forward. For us who are products of political system who are at this level, we have a duty to mobilize communal and local leadership; we have a duty to support the work intelligence and security agencies are doing, we have a duty to ensure that issues are better appreciated and that we fill the communication gap.
“And where there are issues those issues need be addressed and it’s also our duty to network like I’m doing to ensure that problems that are identified as the root cause of some of these challenges are looked into,” he said.
“The military solutions as I have always maintained is not the right option, we are hopeful that the ongoing discussions will yield the desired result. I have always been in support of negotiations, of dialogue as the sustainable way forward. Dialogue will bring out the issues and then we will all unite around these common issues to move our country forward,” he said.
Mr. Dickson was speaking to journalists on Wednesday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said he and the president exchanged ideas on the way to resolve the issues in the Niger Delta.