Simon Utebor and Ovie Okpare
The military on Monday trooped to Boro Town, Kaiama, in Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and strategic locations in Delta State over threats by militants to declare the Niger Delta Republic.
The militant group, Adaka Boro Avengers, had earlier said it would declare the republic and open its headquarters in Kaiama, the country home of late Ijaw freedom fighter, Major Isaac Adaka Boro.
The intimidating presence of the military, it was learnt, forced the militant group to cancel the planned declaration slated for August 1.
The late Boro, before the Nigerian Civil War in 1966, formed the Ijaw Volunteer Force, an armed militant group with members consisting mainly of his fellow Ijaw ethnic group.
They declared the Niger Delta Republic on February 23, 1966 and gallantly battled the federal forces for 12 days before they were finally routed by the superior firepower of the Federal Government.
Boro and his compatriots were jailed for treason but he was later released and made to fight for the Federal Government against Biafra during the civil war where he died in mysterious circumstances defending Nigeria’s unity.
Kaiama is also famous for the 1988 “Ijaw Youth Council Declaration” where youths drawn from over 500 communities and 40 clans met to deliberate on the best way to ensure the continuous survival of the indigenous peoples of the Ijaw ethnic nationality of the Niger Delta within the Nigerian state.
Residents of Kaiama confirmed the movement of troops to the community and said it started on Saturday, July 30, with a stop-and-search operation on vehicles moving along a section of the East-West Road.
The people of the community reportedly went about their normal business unmolested, though they were said to be panic-stricken at the presence of fierce-looking soldiers and other security forces.
A resident of Kaiama, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no major incident apart from the ubiquitous presence of security operatives.
The resident, who is from the family of the late Boro, said the military presence was to forestall any breakdown of law and order and also to make sure that nobody took advantage of the situation.
The spokesman for Operation Delta Safe, Lt. Col. Olaolu Daudu, could not be reached his reaction as his mobile phone indicated it was switched off.
However, the Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali, had on Friday said the military was ready to do anything to make sure Nigeria remained one.
Ijaw leaders had before the planned declaration on Monday by the ABA sent a strong message to the militants not to declare an Independent Niger Delta Republic, saying that the militants were on their own.
The warning was part of a communiqué after a consultative meeting of Ijaw leaders hosted by its national leader, Chief Edwin Clark, where they noted that what the people of the Niger Delta wanted was true federalism.
Meanwhile, the ABA, in a statement, said it had cancelled its declaration of a Niger Delta Republic, saying the decision was not based on selfish interest.
The group had applauded former President Goodluck Jonathan for his move to stop the declaration that was earlier fixed for Monday, August 1.
The group, in a statement through its spokesman, ‘General’ Edmos Ayayeibo, had ordered the Yoruba and Hausa out of the Niger Delta region.
It also called on the Niger Delta people to return home for the declaration.
The statement partly read, “We received calls from prominent leaders, like Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Ankio Briggs, Chief E. K. Clark and especially King Alfred Diete-Spiff, calling on the freedom fighters to abort their mission to declare the Niger Delta Republic.
“We adhere to the voice of our people, because our struggle is for the Niger Delta people and not for selfish reason. But this is not the end. More is yet to come.
“Our mission to cripple the economy of the Nigerian nation will not stop until the Nigerian government is ready to sit on a roundtable to dialogue and to restructure
Also, armed military personnel comprising various security outfits on Monday mounted different strategic locations in Delta State following threat by the Adaka Boro Avengers to declare Niger Delta Republic on August 1.
This is even as the militant group has announced that they had aborted the proposed declaration following appeals made to it by former President Goodluck Jonathan, Ijaw foremost leader, Chief Edwin Clark, King Alfred Diete Spiff among others.
One of our correspondents observed on Monday that armour carriers and military vans were deployed to various locations in case the aggrieved Ijaw youths made good their threat to declare a ‘republic’ for the Niger Delta people.
A senior military officer who spoke with our correspondent on a condition of anonymity disclosed that they were keeping watch on the activities of the militants as they were ready to combat them.
The military including army, navy and police were seen mounting surveillance in the communities of Burutu, Ughelli, Patani, Warri, Effurun and Warri South West local government areas of Delta State.
But, in a statement issued by the spokesman of the group, Edmos Ayayeibo, said they had aborted the declaration because of the intervention of prominent Ijaw leaders including ex-President Jonathan.
It however reiterated its earlier warning of the group determination to cripple the nation’s economy until President Muhammadu Buhari shows a sincere desire to dialogue and restructure the country.
ABA, which is also an affiliate of the dreaded Niger Delta Avengers, also warned the Federal Government against entering dialogue with the defunct MEND if the government wants peace in the oil-rich region.
He said, “We adhere to the voice of our people, because our struggle is for the Niger Delta people and not for selfish reason. But this is not the end. More is yet to come. Our mission to cripple the economy of the Nigerian nation will not stop until the Nigerian government is ready to sit on a roundtable to dialogue and to restructure the Nigeria.
“We received calls from prominent leaders like Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Mrs. Ankio Briggs, Chief E. K. Clark and especially King Alfred Diete-Spiff calling on the freedom fighters to abort their mission to declare Niger Delta Republic.
“Unless that, we will not stop until Nigeria becomes a zero economy. We are also saying this for the benefit of President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerian government to stop wasting their time with those greedy fellows that call themselves MEND because nothing good will come out of them rather than sabotage.”
The statement added further, “Everything they are saying, not even one will be accomplished. We will never agree with anything they say and henceforth MEND should watch their back because we have tolerated them for a very long time.
“Enough is enough, since they want to set confusion in the Niger Delta we will start from them.”
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