By Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€” THE African Network on Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a Non- Governmental Organization (NGO), has warned against the immediate withdrawal of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, as it is being canvassed in some quarters.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, Reverend David Ugolor, said the JTF still has a role to play in consolidating the amnesty programe of the Federal Government, saying the withdrawal of the JTF must be gradual to avoid problems that may distort the prevailing peace in the region.
According to him, â€œif you look at the history why JTF came into the region, it was as a result of the crisis in region, but now that amnesty has been granted to the militants and as the Federal Government sees that there are indicators that the fragile peace is gradually emerging stronger, then the JTF will withdraw”.
â€œThe withdrawal should be a gradual process, that is the better way to manage the situation.Â And I do not think that the JTF necessarily is focussed on the militants.
They also check those involved in oil bunkering, those involved in other forms of crimes in the coastal areas.
â€œI think that civilians cannot tackle those kinds of responsibilities. Our traditional police cannot tackle such responsibilities”.
So the JTF also has its role to play in combating crime in the region, which does not necessarily deal with the issue of freedom fighters in the region.
â€œSo, we should separate some roles that JTF can actually play to keep peace and to keep the region away from oil theft which will not do any good to our economy.â€