By Sylvester Idowu
Indigenes of Kokodiagbene, an Ijaw community in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West local government area of Delta State, on Wednesday cried out over the heavy presence of military personnel in the riverside communities in search of illegal oil bunkerers and militants.
Chairman of the community, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, in a statement, said the presence of the military in patrol boats in search of criminals in the creeks has forced his people to be relocating deeper into the swamps for fear of attack.
He said though the deployment of the military personnel in the Niger Delta was a welcome development, enough enlightenment ought to have taken place before the commencement of “Operation Crocodile Smile”.
“No doubt the presence of the military is a welcome development since it will help to protect oil installations, facilities and creeks; it will curb and prevent sea pirates attacking traders, reduce crime and eradicate illegal bunkering activities in the creek of the Niger Delta.
“But we want to strongly advise the military authority to apply professionalism and diplomacy,” he said, adding that the deployment has raised unnecessary tension among the residents of riverine communities who now live in fear.
“Most of our people are now relocating to nearby communities for safety due to the rumour of military invasion of flow station and oil installation host communities particularly in Gbaramatu kingdom .
“The people have therefore appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the military authority to direct the military personnel not to invade Kokodiagbene and other riverine communities in name of illegal oil bunkers, criminals and militants”, he said.
Instead, the community leader strongly advised the military authority to go after the illegal bunkerers, militants and criminals in their hideout, noting that Gbaramatu kingdom does not host militants and oil illegal bunkerers