Former Aviation Minister Femi Fani Kayode yesterday faulted statement by President Goodluck Jonathan that the 1999 military operation in Odi, Bayelsa State which was ordered by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo following the killing of some soldiers and policemen succeeded in killing old women and children rather than curbing militant activities in the Niger Delta.
Jonathan made the statement in a presidential media chat broadcast live Sunday night while reacting to suggestions by some Nigerians that more force as was used in the Odi would have helped to dislodge the Boko Haram sect.
He said if bombarding Odi was to solve the problem, then it was never solved, noting that none of the militants that committed the murder was killed in that operation.
However, Fani Kayode in statement yesterday said Jonathan's statement was "factually incorrect. He has either forgotten the relevant facts or he has been misinformed. Whichever way he is mistaken and it is important for those of us that proudly served the Obasanjo administration to respond to him in order to clarify the issues."
He said the intention of Obasanjo was to stop and deter attacks and killings of security agents that objective was achieved.
"President Goodluck Jonathan was therefore in error when he said that Odi did not solve the problem of killings in the Niger Delta area by the Niger Delta militants," said Fani Kayode.
Fani Koyode, who said he was briefed by Obasanjo and former head of the SSS, Col. Kayode Are, shortly after the media chat, said it would be appropriate to clarify the issue.
"Five policemen and four soldiers were killed by a group of Niger Delta militants when they tried to enter the town of Odi in Bayelsa state in order to affect their arrest. After the brutal killing of these security personnel Obasanjo asked the then Governor of Bayelsa state, Governor Alamieyeseigha, to identify, locate, apprehend and hand over the perpetrators of that crime. The Governor said that he was unable to do so and Obasanjo, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, took the position that security personnel could not be killed with impunity under his watch without a strong and appropriate response from the Federal Government.
"Consequently he sent the military in to uproot and kill the terrorists and to destroy their operational base which was the town of Odi. The operation was carried out with military precision and efficiency and its objectives were fully achieved. The terrorists were either killed and those that were not killed fled their operational base in Odi."
He said following the operation, the killing of security agents with impunity by the Niger Delta militants virtually stopped and remained at a bare minimum until the time that Obasanjo left power in 2007.
"The same thing was done in Zaki Biam in Benue state in 2001 after 19 soldiers were murdered in cold blood and then brutally beheaded by some terrorists from that area," Fani Kayode said.