Chris Steven, Abuja
A former militant, Bibi Oduku, has cautioned that negotiating with Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militants in the Niger Delta region as being contemplated by the Federal Government would make attacks on oil installations as well as other forms of violence a vicious cycle in the area.
Oduku also warned that engaging in dialogue with the militants would motivate other violent groups to spring up.
Rather, he suggested that Federal Government should go after the militants and hold them responsible for their heinous crimes.
The ex-Militant who heads a group, Riverine Security Coastguard, while speaking in Abuja on Thursday noted that he informed the government through the media that the renewed attacks would come up even before the militants recommenced them.
He argued that it was left for the government to decide if previous negotiations with the militants yielded much fruits.
“If the government dialogues with these groups today, tomorrow, other groups will still come up. If Nigeria as a nation, as a great country called the giant of Africa says it wants to dialogue with Avengers, that means that is a shame to Nigeria as a nation,” he said.
Oduku said as an alternative, the government may consider planting a particular platform that should go against the issues in the region.
He said, “When these boys started as a militant platform and the Federal Government gave them opportunity of an amnesty, what was the meaning of the amnesty? It means they were dropping their arms and when they drop their arms, it means they are not going to engage in any form of criminality.
“But the moment this President assumed duties, other militants started coming from all corners. Why didn’t the federal government even go to arrest all these people who said they were protecting the riverine areas, otherwise where did all these guns come from?
“I informed this government through the media that these issues would come up even before they started and it means we know these people and we know the way to hold them responsible
“The people bursting the pipelines have been misled by some specific leaders and these people are not oriented to know the hazard they are subjecting the environment to as they are carrying out the attacks.
“For instance, what has Avengers got to do with Biafra when even Henry Okah who fought for the region and his fight brought about the amnesty is in South Africa and they have not even talked about him and they are talking Biafra and about all of these people?
“People are instigating all these people to carry out all the attacks for their own selfish interest. That is what I know and tomorrow, a lot of these Avengers are going to regret because of what they are doing to their own environment and not only to the government and believe me, some of their sponsors are even regretting too because if you give a man a gun, what do you think that man will do with that gun, is it not to hunt? And when he finishes hunting his enemies and he does not have anybody to hunt again, is he not going to turn to hunt the person who sent him because they themselves are a threat?
“The idea of Riverine Security (Coast Guard of the Federation) is hinged on the belief that the business of securing lives and property is not complete until the local people are involved
“People involved in the riverine security who are first and foremost indigenes of riverine communities understand the why, how, when and who of the people involved in criminal activities currently carried out by Niger Delta Avengers and other militia groups.
”The most important thing about this coastguard is that we have already made up our mind to support the federal government to maintain peace in the creeks and riverine communities and especially securing the pipelines and we have already made a lot of partnership with the JTF and other security agencies where we are even giving them concrete information.”