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Nigerian military no match for militants - US

Posted by John Ogbedu and Bolaji Ogundele with Agency Reports on 2007/03/20 | Views: 770 |

Nigerian military no match for militants - US


THE United States of America (USA) has decried what it called the under-training of the Nigerian military, insinuating that the Nigerian Armed Forces is no match for the Niger Delta militants.

THE United States of America (USA) has decried what it called the under-training of the Nigerian military, insinuating that the Nigerian Armed Forces is no match for the Niger Delta militants.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence, Theresa Whelan, who made the observation, told a forum that, compared with the militants, Nigerian military is “under-trained and under-equipped to enforce security in the Niger Delta.”

Worried about increasing insecurity in the Niger Delta, Whelan stated that American assistance could not be utilised by the Nigerian military due to lack of training

“Because of a lack of training, Nigeria is unable to use four boats donated by the United States and 17 others bought by its Navy to patrol the Niger Delta, a vast maze of mangrove-lined creeks and wetlands, Whelan said.

“The only problem is that the Navy is not appropriately trained to use those boats and so for the most part ... they sit idle in the Niger Delta,” Whelan said last week.

The U.S. Defence Department has proposed a $16 million regional maritime programme for the Nigerian Navy to raise awareness and check large-scale oil theft, which provides cash for militant groups to buy arms.

Whelan said there were “no quick-fix solutions” to violence in the Niger Delta. Washington is helping Nigeria develop a river unit to pursue oil thieves and militants; and offering to provide training and assistance in arms identification to help track illegal weapons coming into the Niger Delta, Whelan said.

Reacting to the issue, the Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Ayo Olaniyan, said the story was not true. According to him, the deployment of the Nigerian Army in the Niger Delta was purely for internal security to stabilise the area.

“The Nigerian Army did not go to war in the Niger Delta area but to stabilise the area.

“The capacity of the Nigerian Army is known all over the world as Nigerian soldiers have demonstrated their capacity and ability to deal with such crises in parts of the world where they have participated in peace keeping operations.

“The Nigerian Army is capable of dealing with the Niger Delta militants but the situation in the oil producing area is not a war situation. “What kind of military training do the militants have? What kinds of arms do they have to match the Nigerian Army?”

Colonel Olaniyan said the pieces of military equipment brought by the United States were far smaller than those that Nigerian soldiers have been handling.

Meanwhile, three armed cultists were on Saturday arrested with a huge cache of arms and ammunition during a raid by the Joint Task Force (JTF) on suspected cultists hideouts in Ogbakiri, Emohua Local Government area of Rivers State.

The joint security force, which included the Army, Air Force, Navy, SSS and Police, stormed Ogbakiri following information that the community was a major stronghold of hoodlums who had been kidnapping expatriates.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the JTF handed the arrested suspects over to the State Security Service (SSS) in Port Harcourt on Sunday for further investigations. The Director of the SSS, Alhaji Kola Adesina, was not available to confirm this.

It was further gathered that while the operation, which recorded no death, lasted, security men went from house to house in search of suspects and arms.

At the end of the operation, which reportedly lasted several hours, a house belonging to a leader of the cultists was razed.

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