Nigerian Military Had Deployed More Soldiers In
Gbaramatu & Escravos
Residents of Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, and home town of wanted former Niger Delta militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, in the Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, were on Tuesday thrown into panic when they saw two military helicopters hovering round the community. Punch News
It was gathered that the helicopters were first sighted by the residents at 10am and flown for about 30 minutes before leaving the community.
The PUNCH gathered that the aircraft returned for the second time at noon causing residents, some of who feared that soldiers were coming to invade the community, to panic and flee into the swampy neighbouring bush for cover.
A military source, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the incident to one of our correspondents, saying that they were only carrying out aerial surveillance of the area, in response to the threat by the NDA.
Also confirming the development, the spokesman for the Gbaramatu Traditional Council, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, called on the Federal Government not to turn Gbaramatu Kingdom into a theatre of war, adding that no militant is taking cover in their communities.
Gbenekama, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Warri, said, “Military helicoptershave been hovering round our communities in Gbaramatu kingdom since morning (Tuesday).
He said, “Gbaramatu people are not at war with the Federal Government. Why is it that anytime there is crisis in Bayelsa or Rivers states, the first port of call is Gbaramatu? We are just one of the many communities in the Niger Delta. We don’t deserve this siege. We have been championing peace since 2009, but every time military men are drafted to Gbaramatu.
Efforts to speak with the Sector 1 Commander, Joint Task Force, codenamed Operation Delta Safe, Col. Alhassan Grema, by one of our correspondents were unsuccessful. Also, repeated calls to the spokesperson for the JTF, Maj. Ibrahim Abdulahi, for clarification were not connecting.
However, reacting to the alleged military movement into Gbaramatu, the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS, Delta, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, said the helicopters were 0n routine patrol along the Trans Forcados Pipeline.
Dewu said, “What they are speculating as military deployment is routine patrol along the Escravos and the Trans Forcados Pipeline. Once we sense any security concern on that line, our men usually move in to patrol the area. Nobody is deploying any gunboat or jets to specific communities. It is a normal patrol.” Meanwhile, a Nigerian Air Force armed helicopter, EC-135, has bombed suspected illegal oil barges and storage facilities at Adokiakiri community in the Niger Delta, as the ceasefire announced by the NDA entered the fifth day.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, said on Tuesday that the stolen oil storage facilities were sighted in the community during an “armed reconnaissance” on Sunday and subsequently destroyed.
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