Say ‘purchase of more drones won’t stop us’

NIGER DELTA Avengers, NDA, yesterday dared the Federal Government to purchase drones from the United States and Britain, saying that they were neither deterred nor ready to accept insincere pledges from the government. The Avengers in a swift follow- up to the casual dismissal of alleged ongoing discussion with some militants in the region, Friday accused the government of planning to acquire drones to fight them, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari was not sincere with his peace offer. On their part, local leaders have warned against the use of force because it would cause civilian casualties. “The aim of the exercise is to practise our special forces and other units of the Nigerian Army in amphibious and internal security operations in riverine environments,” read an army statement. However, the militants said purchase of more drones won’t stop the m from bringing the country’s economy to zero,” the NDA said in a statement. “The worse you can do is to kill poor innocent people which the military is good at, but know the Nigerian economy will suffer,” it said. Governor Seriake Dickson of the southern oil-rich state of Bayelsa, an epicentre of the violence, visited Buhari this week and cautioned against the use of force, saying it would hurt civilians more. Early this year, the government sent some troops into Gbaramatu community in Delta state, in search of fugitive former rebel leader Government “Tompolo” Ekpemupolo, a government contractor who is wanted for graft. Local residents accused the troops of a range of abuses, including rape as well as looting and destroying their homes. Ekpemupolo has denied allegations of being behind the NDA. He was once a high- ranking member of MEND, an armed group that attacked oil and gas facilities in the 2000s. MEND has denounced renewed violence in the region, advised against military action and appealed to the Avengers to give peace a chance. The Special Forces are due this weekend to begin training for a possible operation against the NDA, which if carried out would be the first in the oil-rich region since 2009.

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