Nine days after the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), issued threats to blow up critical oil assets in the Niger Delta region, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin, has vowed that the Nigerian Armed Forces will strictly prosecute groups associated with violent agitations in the country.
The CDS made the vow during the induction of 20 sophisticated gunboats newly acquired by the Nigerian Navy on Saturday at the Warri Naval Base, Warri, Delta State.
This is coming after members of the NDA nine days ago threatened to cripple the nation’s oil economic by attacking critical economic assets in the Niger Delta region over accusing the Federal Government of insincerity in the development of the region.
Olonisakin, who apologized for arriving late at the venue of the event by 11:26a.m, bemoaned the level of threats and violence in the Niger Delta which has attracted the massive presence of the military among civilian populace.
He specifically recalled the recent threats to resume hostilities by members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), saying it cast an unfortunate blow on the well being of the region and served as a sad commentary on the collective security of the environment.
The Defence boss opined that although there’s the inalienable right of any group to agitate, agitation laced with violence was rather unconstitutional and would be resisted.
Appraising the current security threats and the adverse effects they pose, Olonisakin said:
“Today, our nation is challenged by multifaceted threats from both continental and maritime fronts with a great manifestations.
In the seaward aspect, the nation’s maritime security drivers have been marked with increasing complexities in recent years covering both traditional and nontraditional threats, continuing and increasing challenges across the regional maritime security environment.
Coming landward, there have been continued militarization of the Niger Delta and the proliferation of weapons among non-state groups.
This unsavoury state of affairs has ominously ended up in a sharp increase in threat level and deepening in conditions inimical to security.
The new maritime that expanded in recent times and had developed a new ways and means. They pose a serious and continued danger with potential for asymmetric and high hybrid warfare.
The factors have complicated the nation’s maritime security environment. Increased tension in an area of interest can adversely impact on maritime security and pose great threats for those living in the area.”
According to him, “within the section of this great review, I’m constrained to recall with regrets the continued consideration of violence, threats of violence (sic) of our differences.
The recent purported declaration with intent to resume hostilities by the Niger Delta Avengers rather cast an unfortunate blow on the wellbeing of the region and serves a sad commentary on the collective security of the environment.
While the right of agitation is the inalienable right of agitation, any group associated with violence is unconstitutional and will be strictly prosecuted by the armed forces.”
He expressed satisfaction with the induction of the gunboats, adding that their addition to the platform of the Central Naval Command would boost the general preparedness of the command against security threats.
The CDS lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his ‘unyielding support’ for the armed forces, while urging the Navy to put the gunboats into good use as it has been doing in recent past.
On his part, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ekwe Ibas, said with the provision and induction of the gunboats of two 200hp outboard engines each, criminals in the maritime domain of the Central Naval Command would face hard days ahead.
Ibas, who only last week came on inspection of platforms of the force, warned criminal and saboteurs of critical economic assets in the Niger Delta to find a legitimate means of livelihood or be ready to face the battle ready personnel of the force.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Delta State Government, Chief Festus Agas, who stood in for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who’s on leave in the United Kingdom, has appealed to militants in the state to sheathe their swords in the interest of the sustained peace and gradual economic boom from crude oil sales.
He commended Nigerian Navy Ship, Delta, for its herculean task in checkmating criminality, especially oil theft and illegal refineries in the creeks, warning perpetrators to desist.
Prayers led by the Chief Imam and Chaplain of NNS DELTA, were said for the safety operations of the newly acquired gunboats constructed by two companies from South Africa and Nigeria.
Controversial Senator Isah Misau, chairman Senate Committee on Navy, was at the event but declined speaking with the press.
The colourful ceremony, which looked like a moment of unification for the Ijaws, Urhobos and the Itsekiris, whose common destiny lies in wealth lying in their backyards but which has partially translated to a curse for the people, was well attended.
The Olu of Warri, Orodje of Okpe kingdom, Pere of Gbaramatu, Pere of Ogulagha, Pere of Ogbe-Ijoh among others were either present or represented at the event.