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Ijaw leader and former Information Minister, Chief Edwin Clark, has told the Federal Government that members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) are not afraid of the military personnel deployed in the oil-rich region.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to count the cost of the frequent deployment of military personnel to resolve issues in the region, adding that the use of force had never achieved the desired peace in the region.
Clark, who spoke against the backdrop of massive military activities in the Niger region, however, warned government officials and security forces to desist from “overzealous acts” that could create unnecessary anxiety and tension in the region.
He said the relative peace in the region was engendered by the concerted efforts of members of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and not necessarily the deployment of troops.
“One would have expected the Federal Government and the military to know that the NDA has never shown any sign of retreat or fear when, between February 2016 and August 2016, the area was over-militarised by the Operation Crocodile Smile.
“These are people who are ready to sacrifice their lives for what they believe in, which is remediation of the neglect of the region.
“It is the ordinary people, including women and children, that are the victims of this show of power by the military. For instance, school children will be too scared to go to school. The fishermen and the petty traders will either hide in their rooms or run away from their homes for safety.
“We are quite hopeful that the ceasefire will not be broken. Therefore, the actions by the military at the Bennett Island in Warri, Delta State, as reported in a newspaper last Thursday, is uncalled for.
“When the NDA gave its notice of withdrawing its ceasefire and resuming hostilities for obvious reasons, the leadership of PANDEF quickly intervened, appealing to them to maintain the status quo and went further to send emissaries of youths and former militants to the creeks to deliberate with the NDA.
“It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to use the military force to cow the people to submission. The wise thing for the Federal Government to do will be to sit down and dialogue with the people.
“What the Federal Government is doing right now is misapplication of resources. Can the Federal Government sit down and calculate how much it has cost it to deploy military to the Niger Delta area from 2002 to date?
“Can the Federal Government tell Nigerians what these figures are? And has military action brought peace?
“But for the intervention of well-meaning elders, let the Federal Government tell the Nigerian public what meaningful progress its actions have brought outside pain and humiliation,” he said.
The octogenarian called on the FG to be a good student of history, warning that no amount of military aggression would intimidate members of PANDE….