N/Delta Militancy: We’ll Use Force If Dialogue Fails – Buratai | Independent Newspapers Limited
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N/Delta Militancy: We’ll Use Force If Dialogue Fails – Buratai

Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army Military
Posted: Jul 26, 2016 at 4:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Temidayo Akinsuyi

The Nigerian army would not hesitate to use force if the dialogue between the Federal Government and militants fails, according to Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, who also appealed to the Niger Delta militants to embrace democratic means in their demands and desist from engaging in violence.

The army chief, who made this remark in Port Harcourt on Monday at the commissioning of a modern 2 Brigade Headquarters Complex with an Olympic size swimming pool, explained that, though, the Federal Government was committed to the negotiation, the use of force had always been the first action before dialogue.

Buratai added that it was necessary for the militant groups in the region to take advantage of the government’s gesture to engage them in a dialogue.

“Government is still committed to dialogue and whereby this cannot go on then there could be resort to other means. The non-kinetic (force) means has always been the first source before government can recourse to the kinetic means.

“So, there is need for the Niger Delta Avengers to see reason and dialogue with government,” the Chief of Army Staff stated.

The Chief of Army Staff, who was represented at the occasion by Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the General Officer Commanding 82, Enugu, also stated that the military was ready to provide its services for the legislative re-run in Rivers State if it was called upon to do so.

He lamented that the army was facing shortage of accommodation, offices and other facilities needed for optimal performance by troops.

According to him, “The newly built RSM accommodation quarters and brigade administrative headquarters will provide a conducive atmosphere for higher productivity by officers and soldiers.

Meanwhile, a coalition of ethnic nationalities and civil society groups in the Niger Delta region, United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), on Monday faulted claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that his administration was currently engaging the Niger Delta militants in talks in order to end the spate of destruction of crude oil facilities in the region.

The president in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, last week, had said the talks were being done through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies and were meant to find a lasting solution to insecurity in the region.

However, UNDEDSS in a statement by its Secretary-General, Tony Ipriye Uranta, said it appears that the Federal Government has entered into negotiations with fake militants as no serious dialogue has commenced between the government and armed militants such as the Niger Delta Avengers.

It also reiterated its earlier call that there cannot be any reliable dialogue in the restive region except President Muhammadu Buhari chairs the discourse on solutions to the raging militant activities.

The statement reads, “We note, with dismay, the insistence by some spokesmen of the Federal Government of Nigeria that “Dialogue” is ongoing with the “real militants” of the Niger Delta. We hope the Federal Government is not being fooled by ‘419’ scoundrels and impostors, because UNDEDSS can affirm, unequivocally, that, whilst attempts are being robustly made to open negotiation channels, no dialogue has truly commenced between the Federal Government and armed actors like the Niger Delta Avengers”.

“The presidency is well aware of the conditions that these key players regard as prerequisite to “dialogue” commencing. They are calling on Mr. President, himself, to directly assure the nation that the National Maritime University remains on course; that he has appointed a Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs to drive the 2009 Yar’Adua template, which had five sub-committees headed by the ministers of Petroleum and Works, amongst others; that safe passage will be guaranteed all delegates to the proposed ‘Niger Delta Peace and Prosperity Talks’, which Mr. President would convene as soon as all parties are agreed; and, that relevant international diplomats will be present at the said talks. Simple”.

“Considering how critically important resolving this Niger Delta crisis is to Nigeria’s peace, security and economic stability, UNDEDSS is dismayed at the continuing treatment of the current realities as just another opportunity to grandstand and indulge in vain anti-people one-upmanship propaganda stunts.

“Mr. President, sir, the ball is squarely in your court. You know what to do. Please, do it, now, and, save Nigeria from the ongoing and increasing sorrow, tears and blood that some politicians seem to revel in. Talk to Nigerians, today, yourself, Mr. President. Or, care you not that we implode?” the statement said.

When contacted on the claim by the Ijaw nationalities that there is no dialogue between the Federal Government and the real agitators, Shehu, who said he is in Kano on national assignment, dismissed their claim, saying they are entitled to their opinion.

“They are free to say whatever they like. They are entitled to their opinion”, he said.

Speaking in a chat with Independent, Uranta, however, insisted that meeting the condition of the ethnic nationalities is the only condition for peace in the region.

“The Federal Government represented by anybody may say anything but the fact is that until the president himself, not through any proxy, middleman or aide declares that he is ready to lead the process”.