Ijaw youths: Navy drill will spark war in Niger Delta

Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, has vowed to resist the military drill in the Niger Delta area.

IYC issued the warning in reaction to commencement of Navy drill in the region code named “Operation Octopusgrip”.

In a statement by its President, Pereotubo Oweilaemi, IYC described the drill as an “act of aggression against the people.”

The youths called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the military to order, saying the military drill was an “invitation to anarchy.”

The statement noted: “While the Niger Delta people, especially the Ijaw nation is yet to recover from the unprovoked invasion of the peaceful Ajakurama Community in Edo State by the war-hungry Nigerian armed forces under the cover of a military drill, code named: “Operation Crocodile Smile 11, another department of the same armed forces have introduced yet another military drill in the region.

“The military drill, code named: “Operation Octopusgrip” declared by the Nigerian Navy in the region where it deployed several warships and armoured gunboats to the creeks is tantamount to a declaration of war against peaceful and law-abiding citizens of Nigeria. The injury the Nigerian army’s version of the military drill has inflicted on the Ijaw people through its belligerent Operation Crocodile Smile 11 has given us eternal scare of war.

“We make bold to say that the army has achieved no success in its recent bellicosity in the Niger Delta otherwise known as Operation Crocodile Smile 11 other than committing war crimes against the Ajakurama people. It only succeeded in using Ijaw people to test the mighty of its newly acquired weaponry.

“There is no gain whatsoever to the people from the so-called military drills. With the deployments of warships and armoured gunboats to the creeks of Niger Delta at a time the Government is consolidating on the peace we are enjoying in the region shows that the military is looking for ways to cause another crisis in the oil industry.

“We are forced to believe that some persons are benefiting from the crisis in the Niger Delta and as such they don’t want it to end. Why the Nigerian Navy decided to waste our scarce resources in such a fruitless adventure like what the army has done?

“We have been saying time without number that the money to be used in such meaningless and illicit adventures which we know will only end up in private pockets should be channeled to the developmental projects in the region.

“The Government is in dare need of money to carry out its programmes in the region. Even the N2b initial grant to the Maritime University at Okerenkoko for the school to commence academic activities in October last month has not been released. If the military has so much money to waste, why can’t it assist the Government in carrying out those projects?

“No amount of military drill, siege or invasion even if it amounts to genocide can bring peace to the Niger Delta. They can only help to escalate it which may consume the entire Country. The only solution for peace in the region is development and an equity participation of the people in the management of the Petroleum resources.

“The military should consider itself as a peace ambassador and participate in the ongoing peace process. You can’t demand for peace in an atmosphere of aggression, subjugation, annihilation and annexation of the people’s rights to life through the so-called military drills. We will resist it even with the last drop of our blood.

“President Buhari should call the military to order. What it is doing in the Niger Delta is an invitation to anarchy. There is no where in the world this practice should be celebrated where military destroys peaceful and law-abiding communities with some flimsy and irresponsible excuses. It is a common belief that war begets war and it does no good to mankind.

“Nigerians should rather think of how we can unite ourselves other than cause friction among us which will lead to conflagration. The Navy should stop its belligerent Operation Octopusgrip. Already many riverine communities have deserted their homes for fear of invasion like what the army has done.”

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