Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Indigenes of Kokodiagbene, an Ijaw community in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, yesterday cried out over heavy presence of military personnel in the riverside communities in search of illegal oil bunkerers and militants.
The Chairman of the community, Sheriff Mulade, in a statement, said the presence of 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 ‘Exercise Crocodile Smile.’
“No doubt, the presence of the military is a welcome development since it will help to protect oil installation, facilities and creeks. It will curb and prevent 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 authorities to apply professionalism and diplomacy” 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 stations and oil installations in host communities particularly in Gbaramatu kingdom.
“The people have therefore appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari and the military authority to direct the military personnel not to invade Kokodiagbene and other riverine communities in the 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 hide out, noting that Gbaramatu kingdom does not host militants and oil illegal bunkerers.