ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has denied reports that security forces were harassing, killing and arbitrarily arresting the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Niger Delta region of the country, but said the military was after criminals damaging the oil pipelines and infrastructure.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar in response to inquiries on Wednesday, said that the troops of the Joint Task Force (JTF) did not arrest any innocent civilian contrary to the allegations from the people of the community.
Abubakar clarified that the security forces were only deployed to the Kingdom and other parts of the region to maintain peace and security.
He said that there was no how the military would stand by and allow the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) whom he referred to as criminals to distabilise the country through their activities, saying that the objective was to apprehend the perpetrators.
He said: “What is happening right now need to be clarified because we don’t arrest people. That’s what you need to understand. Let’s put sentiment aside, we need to ensure the security of the country and secondly, we knew what has been happening around that general area (Gbaramatu). Also any other place where there is a security threat, a place where there is a breakdown of internal peace and order in this country, the security agencies have no reason to close their eyes will things go wrong.
“So what we are doing in essence is to ensure that there is adequate protection and enough presence of security forces who will protect the innocent citizens because not all Niger Delta people are part of the NDA. So we are not arresting but only protecting those innocent individuals. We are only focused on those who are criminally minded to ensure that we apprehend them in a professional manner.”
The Defence spokesman stressed that those crying and making the allegation of arrest and molestations were the criminals who are bent on destroying the economic infrastructure around the Niger Delta area.
He vowed that the military would continue with its operations with the primary aim of protecting the innocent civilians and apprehend those behind the attacks against oil facilities in the region.
“The issue of arrest, I am telling you that we are not after innocent citizens as we are making sure that they are protected in all our operations. Those whom we are focusing on are these criminals who want to disturb the peace for the benefit of their own selfish interests. Those who are crying let me tell you are those who have been trying various kinds of antics against the military and state infrastructures for the best reasons known to them. And we are telling them that we cannot accept it, as we are Nigerians just like any other Nigerians and we are given the mandate to protect the interest of this country above any other interests or individuals no matter who that person is.
“So all those cries that we are arresting and humiliating people are not facts as we cannot by our training and operation, molest any citizens. We cannot do that but we are here to protect the country, lives, dignity and human rights of all Nigerians,” he insisted.
However, he said, the fact remains that “we cannot close our eyes for the criminal activities to continue and those with criminal intent. So all these measures we have put in place is for the benefit of our country.”
In a related development, Abubakar said that the military was drafted to quell the protest of the IPOB and MASSOB members for the 50th Anniversary of Biafra as part of their constitutional mandate to maintain law and order in every part of the country.
For the IPOB/MASSOB protests, he said, “our involvement is to ensure that there is peace in the nation.
“The essence of government is the provision of peace, security, as well as protection of lives and properties.
“And that is what the constitution says. We are therefore not going contrary to what the constitution said.”