Emmanuel Addeh In Yenagoa
Refusing to leave anything to chance on Monday, the Nigerian military laid siege to Kaiama, Bayelsa State, apparently in a bid to thwart the Adaka Boro Avengers’ move to declare the Niger Delta an independent republic.
However, the militants failed to make good their threat, citing purported phone calls by former President Goodluck Jonathan and other leaders from the region appealing to them to sheathe their sword as the major reason for their decision.
It could not be independently verified if the leaders indeed made the calls, but the group which says it is fighting against the injustice meted to the people of the region, stated that it only deferred the declaration for a future date.
But the troops, mainly from the Military Joint Task Force ‘Operation Delta Safe” , it was gathered, started moving heavy weapons to the area late Sunday, even extending the operation to parts of Delta state.
The security forces stormed Kaiama Community in Kolokuma/Opokuma local government, where the dissidents proposed to make the declaration, held ground and thoroughly searched anybody going into the area.
Symbolically, Kaiama was where an earlier declaration of a Niger Delta Republic by ‘Ijaw hero’, Isaac Adaka Boro on February, 23rd, 1966, was made.
Kaiama is also famous for the 1988 “Ijaw Youth Declaration” where youths drawn from over five hundred communities and 40 clans met to deliberate on the best way to ensure the continuous survival of the indigenous peoples of the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
But despite the military siege, residents said they were not molested, though the presence of several troops which were also stationed along the popular East-West road, the major entry to the community.
A resident, Ebi Job, who owns a provisions shop in the area, noted that though she was first apprehensive when she saw the military personnel, they assured her that they were not after innocent people.
She said, “ We were afraid when we saw many soldiers with different types of guns since yesterday evening, but they told us not to worry as far as we are not joining the so-called Niger Delta republic militants.
“ They have been friendly, maybe because there is even no work to do, since the people have refused to come out and make the declaration”, she said.
More details later