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Christopher Uche, Yenagoa

Following the recent warning by the Nigerian military against the activities of Niger Delta ex-militants, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), an umbrella body of all the Ijaws, worldwide has cautioned the military against any onslaught on the Niger Delta people, saying the ammunitions acquired by the federal government was not for that purpose.

They said the ammunitions are rather meant for the Boko Haram who are killing innocent Nigerians on a daily basis, calling on the Chief of Defense Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alarx Badeh to redirect his energies to the appropriate place and not to play to the gallery to please his masters.

The Chief of Defense Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh had last week in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital warned the Niger Delta ex-militants against such illegal activities like kidnapping, oil bunkering, illegal refineries amongst others, otherwise they would be faced with unpleasant consequences.

In a statement issued in Yenagoa yesterday by the Spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council, Comrade Eric Omare noted that the threat by the military to attack the Niger Delta region because of alleged rise in criminal activities such as oil theft, sea piracy and kidnapping as a subterfuge to attack and kill innocent people of the Niger Delta region would not be tolerated.

According to him, “This is a prelude to the execution of an hidden agenda by a section of the country now in power to silence the people of the Niger Delta. It is an open secret that those involved in oil theft in the Niger Delta are well placed persons in the society including top ranking serving and retired military officers. Some persons in the Niger Delta are only used as artisans and errand boys. Air Marshall Alex Badeh cannot claim ignorance of this fact.

“The IYC has said this several times and wondered why the innocent people of the Niger Delta should be the scape goat for the sins of highly placed and powerful people in Nigeria. It is obvious that the poor villages cannot be the owners of an oil ship containing 15,000 metric tons of oil. The Niger Delta people are the greatest victims of the activities of the organized oil bunkering gang as the environment which the people rely on for survival has suffered so much degradation.

“We wish to also state clearly that the Niger Delta amnesty programme for ex-agitators has no connection with the criminal activities mentioned by Air Marshall Alex Badeh. The ex-Niger Delta agitators were not granted amnesty to stop oil theft, kidnapping, sea piracy and other criminal activities. The struggle of the ex-agitators was to better the condition of the Niger Delta people and region from the oil and gas resources found in the Niger Delta region”.

He said however, that the Youth Council do not in any way support or encourage criminal activities such as kidnapping and sea piracy under any guise, saying such activities are not part of their struggle as they have consistently condemned them.

The spokesman further noted that the occurrence of such criminal activities in the Niger Delta region should not be used as a justification to carry out a mass attack on the Niger Delta region.