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Niger Delta: Defence minister says FG not ruling out use of force

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Niger Delta: Defence minister says FG not ruling out use of force

Despite reported breakthrough in preliminary negotiations between the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND and the Federal Government through oil companies and security agencies, the Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan-Alli (retd.), has said the Federal Government is not ruling out the use of force against the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, if peaceful dialogue fails.

Dan-Alli declared this when he paid a courtesy call on Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah, at the Government House in Yenagoa.

He was accompanied by the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin and the Commander, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie.

According to Dan-Alli, his visit to Bayelsa State with the CDS was to see what was on the ground and the operational capability of the armed forces within the zone.

“One of the cardinal objectives that brought us here is to look for peace. But we are also preparing in case the peace and negotiations are not favourable.

“We are also on our own side making all the necessary security arrangements so that there will be peace in the Niger Delta.”

On the likely use of force, the minister said, ” We cannot rule it out.”

On the likelihood of collateral damage in the event of going to war with the militants, Dan-Alli said that there had never been war without peace.

“We are not saying that we are going to war; we are doing internal security work and internal security work is not war, and so you cannot start claiming collateral damage.

“We know our rules of engagement, we cannot use forces like that without any mandate. So, collateral damage does not come in here. As far as I am concerned, we are just trying to stop criminality in this general area.”

While speaking, the CDS said the military has a constitutional duty to ensure that there is peace. He advised those destroying the country’s critical infrastructure to put on their thinking cap and come to the negotiation table.

The CDS said: “We have allowed truce to ensure that whoever that wants to come to talk can be given the opportunity, then while giving the opportunity, we also ensuring that our troops are in position to make sure that the truce is well implemented.

“However, we want to tell those who are sabotaging the critical infrastructure that they have to put on their reasoning cap and ensure that they come to the negotiation table and discuss.

“We in the military will enforce and ensure that critical infrastructures are protected and ensure that anyone found sabotaging the economy is properly dealt with and we will also ensure that those who are being involved in all the criminality are brought to book.”

By Timothy Enietan-Matthews

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