Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The posture of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) agitating for the collective interest of the region suffered a setback monday as a collective body of Ijaw host communities in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State vowed to arrest and deliver members of the militant group threatening to devastate oil facilities in their areas to security agents.
Chairmen of the 15 host communities to major multinational oil companies operations in the area gave the assurance in a statement made available to journalists.
As a pointer to their seriousness, they said they had placed all the chairmen and vigilantes in their areas on red alert to monitor and safe guard oil installations that pass through their communities.
Making the commitment under the auspices of Gbaramatu community chairmen, the body disclosed that the resolve to take the policing of their areas seriously was reached at an emergency meeting held in Oporoza community where it was unanimously agreed by all stakeholders to ensure adequate protection for oil facilities on their land.
Chairman of all communities chairmen, Johnbull Izirimi Demebi, who signed the statement said the decision to protect their areas was taking after due consideration of the psychological and mental trauma suffered by their indigenes as a result of the massive military deployment in Delta creeks.
Speaking against the backdrop of last weekendâ€™s deployment of an additional 20 gunboats to Delta creeks by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, Demebi pleaded with the federal government to relax the military option.
He assured the government that they were prepared to support its effort to rid the area of criminal elements.
While recalling the devastating experience of last week Tuesday aerial surveillance of the communities by fighter jets that forced many of their indigenes to take refuge in bushes for fear of being bombed, the chairman noted that up till now a reasonable number of the indigenes are still being missing due to that act of intimidation by the military.
â€œOur people are not criminals and we are not at war with the government. We donâ€™t know who the members of the Avengers are, and we have demanded that they stay away from our land, as we are prepared to protect the oil facilities that pass through our community with everything we have.
â€œWe have put in place our own internal security network to monitor oil facilities in our areas and we will not hesitate to arrest any vandal or criminals that come to our community to commit any act of sabotage on oil facilities on our land and hand them over to the security agents for prosecution.
â€œWhat we have repeatedly demand from the federal government is the development of our land and people and this we shall continue to demand. Not even the intimidating presences of soldiers and military equipment in our land will stop us from making this demand. So government had better reconsider its military option and commence the process of developing our area,â€ he stated.