- Primed to stop alleged move to declare Rep of Niger Delta
- Army arrests 142 suspects in Rivers
Following restiveness and threat by militants to declare the Niger Delta Republic, the military stormed Bayelsa state weekend on special operation even as Nigerian Army announced the arrest of no fewer than 142 persons suspected to be cultists and criminally minded.
According to agency reports quoting The Punch, the military yesterday trooped to Boro Town, Kaiama, in Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over threats by militants to declare the Niger Delta Republic.
It was a move many said was because militant group, Adaka Boro Avengers, had earlier said it would declare the republic and open its headquarters in Kaiama, the country home of late Ijaw freedom fighter, Major Isaac Adaka Boro.
The intimidating presence of the military, it was learnt, forced the militant group to cancel the planned declaration slated for August 1.
The late Boro, before the civil war in 1966, formed the Ijaw Volunteer Force, an armed militant group with members consisting mainly of his fellow Ijaw ethnic group.
They declared the Niger Delta Republic on February 23, 1966 and gallantly battled the federal forces for 12 days before they were finally routed by the superior firepower of the Federal Government.
Boro and his compatriots were jailed for treason but he was later released and made to fight for the Federal Government against Biafra during the civil war where he died in mysterious circumstances defending Nigeria’s unity.
Kaiama is also famous for the 1988 “Ijaw Youth Council Declaration” where youths drawn from over five hundred communities and 40 clans met to deliberate on the best way to ensure the continuous survival of the indigenous peoples of the Ijaw ethnic nationality of the Niger Delta within the Nigerian state.
Residents of Kaima confirmed the movement of troops to the community and said it started on Saturday, July 30 with a stop-and-search operation on vehicles moving along a section of the East-West Road.
The people of the community reportedly went about their normal business unmolested, though they were said to be panic-stricken by the presence of fierce-looking soldiers and other security forces.
A resident of Kaiama, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no major incident apart from the ubiquitous presence of security operatives.
The resident, who is from the family of the late Boro, said the military presence was to forestall any breakdown of law and order and also to make sure that nobody took advantage of the situation.
Though military spokesman for Operation Delta Safe, Lt. Col. Olaolu Daudu, reportedly could not be reached for reaction as his mobile phone indicated it was switched off, it would be recalled that Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali, had last Friday, said the military was ready to do anything to make sure Nigeria remains one entity.
Ijaw leaders had before the planned declaration on Monday by the ABA, sent a strong message to the militants not to declare an Independent Niger Delta Republic, saying that the militants were on their own. The warning was part of a communiqué after a consultative meeting of Ijaw leaders hosted by its national leader, Chief Edwin Clark, noted that what the people of the Niger Delta wanted was true federalism.
Apparently kowtowing to military presence and admonition by Ijaw elders, ABA in statement later yesterday afternoon said it had cancelled its declaration of a Niger Delta Republic, saying the decision was not based on selfish interest.
The group had applauded former President Goodluck Jonathan for his move to stop the declaration slated for Monday, August 1.
The group in a statement through ‘General’ Edmos Ayayeibo, who is its spokesperson, had ordered the Yoruba and Hausa out of the Niger Delta region.
It also called on Niger Delta people to return for the declaration.
The statement reads, “We received calls from prominent leaders like Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Ankio Briggs, Chief E. K. Clark and especially King Alfred Diete Spiff calling on the freedom fighters to abort their mission to declare Niger Delta Republic.
“We adhere to the voice of our people, because our struggle is for the Niger Delta people and not for selfish reason. But this is not the end. More is yet to come.
“Our mission to cripple the economy of the Nigerian nation will not stop until the Nigerian government is ready to sit on a roundtable to dialogue and to restructure the Nigeria.”
Military arrest 142 in Rivers
In nearby Rivers state, no fewer than 142 kidnap suspects have been arrested in Rivers state by the Nigerian Army.
The suspects, who were later reduced to 15 after investigations, were nabbed during the military raid on criminal hideouts.
While parading the suspects spokesman of 2 Brigade, Captain Lazarus Eli, told newsmen at the Brigade headquarters that the hoodlums were arrested at some black spots in the state capital, Port Harcourt.
He said, “One hundred and forty two suspects were arrested during the raid operation.
“After profiling the suspects, some were released while 15 suspects are being interrogated and would be handed over to the relevant security agencies for further investigation.”
He however urged residents not to panic over the show of force by the army on the streets.
Eli stated it was as part of the Exercise Crocodile Smile, a military operation launched in the region.