Warri — SENATOR Fred Brume yesterday described the fighting between militants and operatives of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta as an unequal battle that is drastically de-populating several parts of the region and reducing the manpower resources, just as he called on leaders to rise up to the challenge by adopting a better strategy in fighting for the development of the entire region.
Chief Brume who commended leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Alhaji Mujaheed Dokubo-Asari for now adopting a non-violent approach toward achieving the dream of a developed Niger Delta said "it is truly time to re-consider our strategies and our actions".
In a keynote address presented at the 2009 Major Isaac Adaka Boro lecture held at the Wellington Hotels, Effurun, Delta state with the theme "From Terror, Horror To Honour", Chief Fred Brume stated that the people of the region have suffered untimely deaths in the past from former colonial master and exploiters but since independence they are being murdered by federal soldiers, poloicemen and other security agents.
Chief Brume who is the Chairman, Niger Delta Consultative Forum and the Chairman of the occasion thanked Asari and his NDPVF for giving him the opportunity to review the Niger Delta situation which he described as being very precarious.
Alhaji Dokubo Asari in the letter of invitation sent to Dr. Fred Brume stated "that it is our determination to build bridges of friendship, enhance the quest for peace, reconciliation and justice in the Niger Delta by extending the hands of fellowship to other stakeholders in and from the region as well as friends of the region" noting that "it is our strong resolve to re-brand the image of the region, to-re-define and to re-position, focus and strategies of the niger Delta struggles, breaking away fro the back waters of criminalities, kidnapping, illegal bunkering and gun running which have defaced our just, legitimate and moral struggle".
According to the pioneer General Manager of the ailing Delta Steel Company, DSC, Ovwian Aladja, victory for the struggle to emancipate the region must not necessarily come from military camps at Okerenkoko and Oporaza or such other places but maintained that he is persuaded to believe "that victory will most likely come our way by deploying other methods that uphold God's wisdom and love".
Gbagi fumes over attack on innocent villagers
Former chairman of the Board of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACN), Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi told Vanguard in an interview that it was wrong for the JTF, paid with tax payers' money to attack innocent people they are paid to protect, with helicopter gunboats and other military artilleries.
He said the government should have enough intelligence information to identify the actual problem areas and tackle them specifically than to descend on innocent people, including women and children.
Olorogun Gbagi called on the Federal Government to stop the killings and attacks on the communities, saying, "If they succeed in killing the Ijaw today, it can be the Itsekiri tomorrow and the Urhobo next tomorrow".
Yar'Adua not concerned -Ekiyor
National President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), worldwide, Dr. Chris Ekiyor said in a chat with Vanguard, "I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the Nigerian government has declared all out war on the Ijaw nation, if not, how else can we explain the deaf ears paid by Mr. President of Nigeria.
As leaders of youths, we have called on all our youths to exercise restraint, be calm and even put off the much celebrated Boro day event in order to ensure that no one cash in on the event to foment trouble".
"Despite calls from all quarters on Mr. President, the army is still hitting our communities as I speak to you. This scenario was avoidable, I am worried because except the hostility ceases, we can't guarantee anything in the near future.
"We are restraining the boys and appealing to all stakeholders to hold their peace. As I speak with you, I am in a state of shock and disbelief, because for two years running, we have been working toward extracting commitment from government, so that the Niger-Delta can see the light of day, only for us to wake and find out our towns are being burnt down.
The IYC position is still clear, we will not be distracted by the military overture to drag us into war, however, we shall remain focus and continue to support genuine process that will allow us achieve our set goal. Meanwhile, I still call on the Ijaw to be steadfast and be prepared to die standing up for what is right".
CDHR calls for restraint
Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) in Delta State, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi in an interview with Vanguard also said, "we, members of the CDHR, in the state do hereby condemn in no mean terms the recent shootout around Okerenkoko community in the Escravos River of Delta State between operatives of JTF and militant youths, as same has dented the relative peace enjoyed in the state, especially in the riverine areas".
"We call on the restive and rampaging youths and the JTF operatives to exercise some restraint in the circumstance in a bid to avoiding civilian casualties and embracing dialogue, as same remains the best option at solving the Niger-Delta crisis, which is a fall out of poverty of leadership in our past and present polity", he asserted.
Izon elders want JTF, militants to cease hostilities
Izon Okosu-Otu (Izon Council of Elders) Delta State yesterday called for restraint on both sides of the militants and Joint Military Task Force (JTF) clashes in the state which led to bombardment of Ijaw communities.
Member and Adviser on Peace and Security of the Izon Okosu-Otu, Brig-Gen. Cletus Emein (rtd), who briefed the press after a meeting on the issue , said the Federal Government should set up a probe panel to ascertain the immediate cause that triggered the crisis. Without such a probe, he said, it would be hasty to apportion blames and avoid a repeat situation.
Emein, a former military administrator of Niger State , advised: "The militants should not to provoke the JTF mandated to restore hope in the region into such ugly situations. However I like to say that the Military too should watch out against a high-handed response that suggests that they are at war with a foreign enemy nation.
I'm not in the business of speculating; I cannot now confirm whether the JTF actually did apply the reported aerial, land and marine bombing of civil Ijaw communities. I can only say that in an internal crisis of this sort, there are many ways of dealing with the situation involving untrained young militants.
Minimum force is required, not maximum force".
Emein assured that the Izon Okosu-Otu would work with Government and the JTF towards achieving and sustaining peace in the State.