20 gunboats inaugurated in Delta
•Warri monarch cautions against heightening tension
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, yesterday launched additional 20 new 400 horsepower gunboats, newly acquired by the Nigerian Navy to beef up the military combat weapons already deployed to the Niger Delta creeks shortly after the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) announced its withdrawal from the peace accord, and threatened to resume hostilities in the region.
The additional gunboats came less than one week after the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, announced deployment of troops and equipment to the creeks of the Niger Delta and the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Abubakar Bello Alhasan, launched ‘Octopus Grip Two, with another 11 gunboats in Delta creeks.
While performing the launching, Gen. Olonisakin, solicited the understanding and cooperation of the local indigenes with the armed forces in the task of protecting the nation’s critical assets, urging law abiding citizens not to entertain any fear as the operation was targeted at the criminal elements sabotaging the nation.
According to him, “Recent purported declaration of intent to resume hostilities by the Niger Delta Avengers rather casts an unfortunate gloom on the well being of the region and serves a sad commentary on the security environment. While the right to agitation is inalienable to any group, its association with violence is unconstitutional and will always be strictly prosecuted by the armed forces.”
The CDS said the successful construction of the 16 boats was a clear testimony that with adequate encouragement, the underdeveloped technological capacity of indigenous companies could be harnessed for national development and improved security.
In a swift reaction to yesterday’s additional deployment, the Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, expressed concern over the massive military hardware being deployed to the Delta creeks alone and called for caution in the latest approach being adopted by the federal government in handing the situation in the region.
He noted that presently the indigenes are living in absolute fear of an unsecured environment to their lives and property and warned against aggravating the apprehension among the people in order not to provoke anger and lawlessness in the creeks.
SOURCE : SUNDAY SUN