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There is pandemonium in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, as hordes of residents are said to be fleeing the area over Nigeria military’s increased surveillance with fighter jets said to be hovering around the palace of the traditional ruler of the kingdom at Oporoza.
This is coming as the Federal Government is frantically trying hard to avoid the repeat of economic damage done to critical oil and gas installations in the creeks of the Niger Delta in 2016, sequel the Nigerian Armed Forces is said to have
Following the deployment of fighter jets in Oporoza, many folks are said to be recoiling into their homes while scores are said to be fleeing the area for cover.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian Navy had since last Saturday after the Avengers’ threats, increased its presence in major waterways with heavy gunboats and war ships under Operation OctopusGrip launched last week.
The situation has seen the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibas being on hand in Central Naval Command, declaring on Monday that the navy was ever prepared to tackle militants and other forms of criminals in the country territorial waters even before the NDA’s threat.
Spokesman of Gbaramatu Traditional Council and Benemowei, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, disclosed on Tuesday that targeting communities each time there was crisis in the region was an attempt to perpetuate injustice and oppress the people.
He had, earlier last Saturday, warned against the use of brute force as response to NDA’s threat, considering the civilians casualties that might result from such action.
Chief Gbenekama reasoned that launching operations in the creeks and swamps of the Delta region as a strategy against Avengers’ threat would only worsen the fragile peace in the region and derail the already achieved understanding between the people and the FG.
Speaking to Nigerian Tribune, he said: “Some few hours ago, military aircraft was roving round our palace and there were troops with gun boats all over Gbaramatu Kingdom.
“While we are appealing to the Niger Delta Avengers to sheathe their swords, we don’t know the rationale behind the deployment of troops and gun boats.
“Gbaramatu people are not at war with the Nigeria government, why is it that anytime there is crisis anywhere; something happens in Bayelsa, or Rivers state, the first port of call is Gbaramatu?
“We don’t want what happened in 2009 and 2016 to happen again. So, let the military restrain itself and we are still appealing to the Avengers to sheathe their swords.
“The Avengers that were operating in 2016 that would say something, the next day they take drastic action are same people still operating, but somehow they are now listening to us including the traditional ruler that they should sheathe their swords and give government sometime.
“And thank God nothing has happened since the renewed threat so why the deployment? Military presence in Gbaramatu and other parts of Niger Delta region is capable of escalating the crisis.
“Let the military back down. We are also appealing to agitators to sheathe their swords.
“While we are still appealing to the agitators, the military should back down so that we can sustain the peace while the federal government embark on one or two projects in the region.”
Meanwhile, the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship, (NNS Delta), Warri Naval Base, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, while confirming the deployment of harwares, said, “What they are speculating as military deployment is routine patrol along Escravos and the Trans Forcados Pipeline.
“Once we sense any security concern on that line, our men usually move in to patrol the area.
“Nobody is deploying any gunboat or jets to specific communities. It is a normal patrol.
However, a group, Coalition of Niger Delta Voices, has, on Tuesday, in a press statement, advised President Muhammadu Buhari and his aides to talk less and rather swing into action, saying Nigerians are tired of failed promises.
The statement signed by its coordinator and spokesperson, Frank Ekpemupolo and Williams Welemu, opined that the ongoing footdragging in the implementation of the Ogoni clean up and refusal to disburse the N2 billion initial budget for the take off of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, showed that the Buhari government thrives on insincerity.
“It is high time they drew the line between electoral campaigns and governance. For instance, this administration has made so many promises for the Niger Delta region that is yet to fulfil.
“Whereas, it is the same region the administration is getting money to fund projects all over the country.
“The most annoying one is the funding of the only higher learning institution in the coastal area of the region, the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, which the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo promised that will start the 2017/2018 academic session is yet to receive the paltry sum of two billion naira it promised since the beginning of this year.
“What does it take to make available such amount of money? We believe the government is not sincere about the promise.
“This government has rubbished the good intension of the former administration in establishing the Nigerian Maritime University, which is meant to open up the rural areas and guarantee peace and development.
Furthermore, almost two years of the Ogoni clean-up flag off, work is yet to commence.
“Why the flag off when the government was not ready to clean-up the environment?
“It was merely used to abuse Former President Goodluck Jonathan that he could not implement the UNEP report. Let this government know that this is not time to campaign but time to work.
“It is obvious that this administration has nothing to offer Nigerians. That is why some persons even in the ruling party have said that the administration is being characterised by falsehood, hypocrisy and lies.
“Other promises like establishment of Modular Refineries and relocation of International Oil Companies headquarters to the region are yet to be effected. Nigerians are losing faith in this administration.
“They have to talk less and implement programmes as there is no enough time on their side,” the group noted.