A new group in the South-South, the New Niger Delta Emancipation Front has warned militants operating in the region to close shop and embrace peace even as it hailed the deployment of the military under ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ to restore sanity to the area.

In an electronic statement issued on Thursday, the group noted that the presence of the military in the Niger Delta is crucial to rescuing the region’s larger population who have become human pawns to a vocal minority made of the militants and their sponsors.

The statement signed by Lucky Humphrey, Director, Public Enlightenment and Awareness has urged that Nigerians of South-South origins must develop the courage to speak out against the atrocities being committed against them by militants who try to impose their decisions on the entire area without having held consultations with anyone on what they want.

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It said things could have gone worse had the Federal Government succumbed to the blackmail of those resisting military presence in the Niger Delta under the pretext of calling for negotiation while what they were actually doing was “buying time for their boys (militants) to mobilize and gather more weapons.”

The group explained that “The militants who are not unaware of the global economic melt down would have resorted to their old ways of kidnap for ransom but for the vigilance of the military. Had this happened, only the celebrity kidnap victims would get reported and attract security intervention while the poorer families would become prey to the small ransom kidnap syndicates that would operate freely.

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“This is why, contrary to the position of militants’ sponsors who could afford the media hype to claim the contrary, we salute President Muhammadu Buhari for the deployment of military to the region.⁠⁠⁠⁠
“It is in the same vein we advise our people who have been misled into taking up arms to discard them and structure their intervention for the Niger Delta within the framework of the legitimate platforms for expressing dissatisfaction by law abiding Nigerians.

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“Unrepentant militants should note that the rest of the Niger Delta would move forward without them in the event that they suffer the consequences of refusing to disarm. We know from recent experiences that the arms they bear against the government is not for the general well being of the Niger Delta population but for some narrow interest for which they are prepared to commit crimes,” the statement cautioned.

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