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Groups flay militarisation of Niger Delta

By Kelvin Ebiri, Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt) and Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu (Benin City)   |   24 February 2016   |   4:35 am

MILITANT• Gov urges cooperation

THE Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and an Ijaw professional and youth group, Iwere Peace Movement (IPM) have flayed the deployment of troops in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

While it vowed to resist any attempt to use ex-militants in the planned environmental cleanup of Ogoni, MOSOP, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to fast-track the implementation of the recommendations of the Technical Committee on the region.

MOSOP President, Legbosi Pyagbara, told The Guardian that the planned militarization of the region was ill-conceived, adding that the move would not bring about the much-desired stability.

He said it had become imperative for government to open dialogue with different groups in the region rather than resorting to the use of military force to impose peace at all cost.

Pyagbara noted that for years government had refused to engage groups involved in intellectual agitation, but sadly, had always chosen to deal with those who took up arms against the state.

The body has also condemned in strong terms the invasion of Ogoni communities by the Nigerian military and demands immediate their immediate withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the state governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged the people to cooperate with the military to restore law and order.

Also, he called on fleeing residents to return to home, noting that the heavy military presence in the area was aimed at promoting security of lives and property and not to harm law-abiding residents.

The governor said his administration will always enhance the security of all residents of the state.

The troops had on Monday invaded Yeghe community in Gokana Local Council of Rivers State, which MOSOP claimed led to the killing of three innocent citizens, destruction of properties and arbitrary arrests.

The organisation, in a statement signed by its publicity secretary, Fegalo Nsuke yesterday regretted that, instead of the soldiers to end the condemnable campaign, the military yesterday morning extended the violence to Bori, shooting indiscriminately and advancing into adjoining communities, including Zaakpon.

Nzuke said: “The shooting, which is on-going had sadly seen to the cold-blooded murder of innocent persons, infliction of serious gunshot injuries on others, paralysis of activities in the Ogoni capital and its environs as well as arbitrary arrests thereby forcing natives and residents to flee for safety.”

On its part, IPM alleged that the combing of the area might be a ploy to eliminate the former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo).




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