Military backs dialogue with Niger Delta militants
*Army recaptures three towns, urges media to focus on peace efforts
The military has pledged to cease fire in the Niger Delta as the Federal Government holds negotiation with militants, but would not hesitate to respond to any unprovoked attack.
A statement yesterday in Abuja by the Director of Defence Information (DDI) Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar said the Armed Forces have the capacity to defend themselves and the territorial integrity of Nigeria and that the efforts of the Nigerian government to restore peace in the area must be supported.
According to Abubakar, “The Defence Headquarters is re-emphasising that the military totally supports the Federal Government’s negotiations with militants to achieve peaceful settlement of the Niger Delta problem.”
He assured that cooperation between the Armed Forces and peaceful groups would be strengthened. The statement however, warned the “belligerent groups in either the Niger Delta or any other part of the country to stop acts capable of disrupting peace or threatening the security of the nation or they will face the consequences.”
The statement noted: “The military would respond proportionately to any armed attacks against its personnel in a professional manner in line with its constitutional mandate of defending innocent citizens as well as critical national infrastructure.
“It is instructive to state that the Armed Forces have the capacity to defend themselves just as they did recently when a group of misguided elements attacked their location at Efut Esighi waterfront in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State where they paid dearly for their evil act,” he said.
In Maiduguri, Borno State, the Nigerian Army has urged journalists to look beyond the violence associated with Boko Haram activities and concentrate on the peace efforts and confidence building among the victims of the six-year insurgency.
The Commandant of the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information (NASPRI), Col. John Agim, who led participants of Strategic Communications Course 1 on a visit to various media organisations in Maiduguri, said that the narrative of violence in the volatile northeast states ought to change now.
He appealed to the media to concentrate on the peace efforts, so as to build the confidence of displaced persons who are eager to return to their liberated communities.
Meanwhile, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major Gen Lucky Irabor said that the border towns of Mallam Fatori, Abadam and Gasigar in Borno state, had been captured by troops, after Damasak was re-taken on July 30, 2016 with a joint coordinated military operations of Multination Joint Task Force (MJTF).
Irabor disclosed this in Maiduguri, while briefing journalists on the challenges of recapturing the borders towns, before the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) taking refuge in Maiduguri camps return to their liberated communities.
He, however, noted that during the military operations along the Nigerien border areas, a few soldiers were killed and wounded, while the injured ones are responding to treatments at the Mamalari Cantonment military hospital.
He said three units of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were also used to attack some of the troops, before the border towns were recaptured from Boko Haram.