The federal government, yesterday, deployed an armada of five warships, 100 gunboats and fighter jets to the creeks of the Niger Delta, in response to continued bombing of oil and gas pipelines by Niger Delta Avengers, NDA.
This heightened tension in the coastal communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, even as helicopter gunships were seen hovering at low altitude in the predominantly riverine council. Niger Delta Avengers: FG deploys 5 warships, 100 gunboats, fighter jets to Delta creeks.
It was gathered that while the Airforce deployed the fighter jets and helicopter gunships, the Army swooped on four more Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State, for the militants.
Travellers from the hinterland, confirmed the large military presence in the tricky mangrove swamp of the council, which at the height of youth militancy, had the largest concentration of militant camps in the Delta.
“There is a massive security operation going on in the area. Fighter jets and helicopter gunships have been hovering around the airspace at low level, apparently on surveillance mission. Many of the natives are worried about the development,” said Ayebatari, an indigene of the area.
However, an Agip source confirmed that the company had, amid tight security, commenced repair of the damaged section of Tebidaba-Brass delivery line destroyed on Sunday by militants. “Yes, the repair work is being done under the radar,” he said in reference to the aerial coverage by the military.
Meanwhile, the invasion of Ijaw communities, which started about 1.52a.m., on Saturday, with the take-over of Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of the kingdom and Kurutie, also known as “Little London,” the country home of ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, Okerenkoko, Kokodigbane and Benikrukru, yesterday, has caused food crisis in Gbaramatu clan.
Residents, who fled Oporoza, three days ago to the neighbouring Azama community, are famished, as they had not eaten for the period, while soldiers were reportedly not allowing them to return to the community to look for food and pick their clothes. The traditional ruler of Gbaramatu kingdom, HRM Williams Ogboba, Oboro Gbaraun II, narrated the ordeal of the people when the Special Adviser to the President on Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (retd), visited him at his palace in Oporoza, Delta State, on Sunday.
He said he was under house arrest and had not taken his bath since soldiers invaded his kingdom, while his subjects in Oporoza had all fled. Commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Raimi Mohammed, confirmed, yesterday, that the security agencies were now working in synergy to rout the Avengers.
He said: “We (Navy) use helicopter. If you spot it, you will clearly identify it as belonging to us. You see Navy written on it. The jet fighters and surveillance craft were deployed by Air Force to watch over the high risk areas against activities of the oil assets vandals and anyone else involved in criminality in the area
. “There is now strengthened synergy among the security agencies to stop this vandalism. The synergy is there. I will advise those involved to steer clear and employ peaceful ways of agitating and engaging their minds.” The fighter jets and surveillance aircraft were also seen flying around communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom and Ogulagha area in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State about 10a.m. Ijaw leader, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, and Public Relations Officer of Oporoza Youth Executive, Paul Kirifade, confirmed the movement of the jet fighters and aircraft in the communities.
It was learned that the fighter jets and surveillance aircraft were deployed to enable the armed forces locate the militants, believed to be running helter-skelter and hiding in the mangrove swamps after the occupation of Oporoza and fly down on Kurutie and other communities, yesterday.
Our source said soldiers stormed Kurutie in six gunboats at 4.30a.m., while the people were still asleep. A 70-year-old man, identified as Mr. Dogood Ikekama, was allegedly molested and forced by the soldiers to take them round some houses in the community.