â€¢ Vows to be civil in search of suspects
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Joint Task ForceÂ (JTF), Operation Delta Safe, on TuesdayÂ said Â it was continuing its search for suspected militants who killed a soldier on duty at Ogbugbagbene settlement Â in Burutu Local Government, Delta State at the weekend.
A spokesman of the special security, outfit deployed in the Niger Delta, Major Abubakar Abdullahi,Â also promised that its ongoing operation to fish out the killers who also seized weapons belonging to the military, was being carried out within the rules of engagement.
He dismissed reports that troops had invaded innocent residents as untrue, stressing that the operation was â€˜normal and routineâ€™.
â€œThe Nigerian military is not a force for invasion.Â We have not invaded anywhere. What we are doing is just routine operation. The military man they killed was also a human being. There is no cause for alarm. Our people should be allowed to do their job,â€ Abdullahi said.
He said investigations were underway while ongoing efforts to bring those behind the act were being intensified.
The Commander of the joint force, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, had warned a few weeks ago that attacks on troops performing military duties would no longer be tolerated.
Apochi had said during the cold-blooded murder of some soldiers at Ajakpa in Ondo that any community that harbours criminals would lose its immunity.
The militaryâ€™s reaction followed concerns raised by the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) and the Bayelsa chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO).
The newly-elected Chairman of IYC, Central Zone, Mr Tare Porri, told journalists in Yenagoa that many of the women and children affected by the action of the military are now residing in the bushes.
Describing the attack on the military as unacceptable, Porri, a lawyer, stressed that molesting the women and children in the communities was equally condemnable.
â€œWe condemn the act (soldierâ€™s murder) in its entirety, but the military should not also take the laws into their hands by invading the communities. As we are talking, the five communities have been invaded. This will call for serious crisis.
â€œWhile we condemn the action of those who perpetrated this evil, we are also against the action or inaction of the Nigerian military molesting women and children,â€ he said.
Â Also in a statement issued by its Chairman, Chief Nengi James, theÂ Â CLO condemned the attack and killing of the soldier and urged the military to guard against molestation of innocent people.
James urged the military authorities to ensure that the conduct of the search is done within the limits of the law and best practices.