The Nigerian government has ordered the immediate withdrawal of troops
from communities in the Niger Delta region, amidallegations of a
heavy-handed military response to renewed attacks on oil and
gasinstallations in the area.
A new group called the Niger Delta Avengers has declared war on the installations, vowing to ground Nigeria’s oil production.
group, which says it wants a sovereign state of the Niger Delta, has
attacked several facilities in recent weeks, cutting oiland gas
production and forcing oil companies to shut some export terminals.
Residents of the area have however complained of harassment and indiscriminate arrests by soldiers hunting the militants.
The government said it was withdrawing troops immediately. Soldiers will continue to patrol the waterways.
decision was taken at a meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,
governors from states in the Niger Delta region, some ministers and
The minister of state for petroleum, Ibe
Kachikwu, had on Monday announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had
directed a two-week cessation of military offensive in the Niger Delta
region, to enable the government dialogue with the militants.
to journalists after Tuesday’s meeting, Delta state governor, Ifeanyi
Okowa, said, “We have also agreed that there is a need to distill
military operations directly in communities, but the military need to
actually remain on our waterways to ensure that we adequately man the
waterways itself while we engage the communities and that engagement
processis starting any moment from now”.
Mr. Okowa said during
the meeting they received briefings on the current state of things and
agreed that a synergy, especiallyin a form of intelligence sharing,
between the Federal Government and the States would help in tackling the
“We have taken a lot of decisions which will help us
mitigate what is going on currently in the states particularly Bayelsa
“One of such is that there is a need for us to share
intelligence which is very important and for us to be proactive, working
together with the various stakeholders in the states to achieve a
better resultgoing forward,” he said.
He said the decision of withdrawing the troops took was to begin immediately.
at the meeting include the governors of Edo, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Ondo
and Rivers State. The deputy governor of Cross River State also attended
the meeting. All service chiefs, ministers of Niger Delta, Petroleum
(state) and Defence were also in attendance.
The Edo state
governor, Mr. Oshiomhole, told journalists that Nigeria was not at war
as the government was ready to address the conflict.
“If we have
conflicts, we will talk through those conflicts. There are laws that
have to be enforced. I think that in all of these the whole idea is to
find peace that is functional, that creates an environment for very
decent Nigerians to live their lives,” he said.