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Defence chief orders probe of N’Delta killings

Posted by By MOLLY KILETE, Abuja on 2006/08/25 | Views: 463 |

Defence chief orders probe of N’Delta killings


Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lieutenant-General Martin-Luther Agwai, has ordered an immediate investigation into the recent clash between members of the Joint Task Force (JTF), and some youths in the Niger-Delta.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lieutenant-General Martin-Luther Agwai, has ordered an immediate investigation into the recent clash between members of the Joint Task Force (JTF), and some youths in the Niger-Delta.

Nine Ijaw youths and a community liaison officer with Shell Petroleum Development Company, Nelson Ojegha were killed on Sunday night in Letugbe, Bayelsa State in what is perceived as a mistaken identity, during an encounter between the youths and members of the JTF.

It was learnt that the youths had gone to rescue the Shell staffer from a group that abducted him on August 8 when, on their return mission, they clashed with the soldiers. A soldier also died in the confrontation.

General Agwai, who expressed regrets over the lives lost, however, noted that the JTF troops, code named ‘Operation Restore Hope’ deployed in the Niger Delta were not meant to fight wars, but to win the peace in the area, for the socio-economic and political development of the country. He appealed to stakeholders in the area, especially the militant youths to embrace peace.

A statement from the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja, signed by the Director, Defence Information (DDI), Brigadier-General Felix Chukwuma, warned that the Armed Forces would take exception to any individual or group that uses the acronym, "freedom fighters" in the present democratic environment to fight for their rights, when the Nigerian constitution and the government has provided adequate platforms and environment for addressing genuine grievances without recourse to violence.

The statement further reminded Nigerians that the only group constitutionally vested with the power to legally carry arms in the country are the Armed Forces, Nigerian Police and some paramilitary organisations. It warned that any other group or individual that trafficks, sells or carries arms and ammunition in the country is committing an illegality and would be treated in accordance with the rule of law.

"The Defence Headquarters wishes to restate that the Armed Forces have an open door policy and are willing to work with any individual or group that can help to de-escalate the increasing violence. Our Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta code named ‘Operation Restore Hope’ is being strengthened and reorganised to ensure that the troops gain the confidence of the Niger Deltans. New channels of communications at the Defence Headquarters, the Joint Task Force and states in the region are being established to network information between all stakeholders," the statement continued.

While appealing to the media to partner with Nigerians and the government to address the challenges in the Niger Delta region, the statement added that "In line with the vision and action of Mr. President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Armed Forces are also appealing to all stakeholders in the Niger Delta area especially the militant youths to embrace peace. Having won the peace in the Bakassi Peninsula, the Armed Forces are even more determined to win the peace in the Niger Delta for the socio-economic and political development of our country."

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.