THE Niger Delta is home to many JTF formations created to guarantee the security of life and property. Many JTF commanders have come and gone in the appointive engagement of the task of extirpation of any act of criminality in the Niger Delta.
For former JTF commanders like Major-General Charles Omoregie, Major-General Ochoga and Major-General Debiro, they left glorious records behind in the performance of their military task in the Niger Delta. The professionalism and proactive strategies in the containment of imminent criminality and visible criminality displayed by these past JTF commanders in their days still stand unrivalled.
Specifically, Major-General Omoregie demonstrated unprecedented professionalism in intelligence-gathering and military engagement during the troubling days of the late John Togo, the ex-militant, in 2010 in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State who took up arms against the Federal Government of Nigeria in dramatisation of his so-called disenchantment with the execution of the post-amnesty programme.
He was always professionally prompt in investigative intelligence-gathering and utilization of the intelligence gathered in confronting militants criminally engaged in unjust war for selfish purposes.
When it was investigatively gathered that John Togo had relocated with his boys to neighbouring communities like Akparemogbene, Oyangbene, Gogigbene, Ogbobabougbene and others in a militarily targeted strategic move to outwit the JTF, Major-General Omoregie quickly deployed a detachment of soldiers to Akparemogbene and Oyangbene communities to militarily frustrate the late John Togo.
These prompt foundational proactive military strategies of General Omoregie eventually led to the hunting down of the late John Togo in open gun-to-gun confrontation in 2011. It is strategies like these that always make the JTF win the war against criminality in the Niger Delta as the various JTF formations professionally stuck to their responsibilities.
It saddens that some JTF formations in the Niger Delta have lost this characteristic professionalism left by Omoregie, Ochoga and Debiro to proactively fight criminality in the Niger Delta. Around these JTF formations poor defenceless civilians could be invaded and kidnapped away with the likelihood of the JTF soldiers looking the other way and lazily rationalising that it was outside their constitutional province to intervene and stop it forthwith.
The present JTF commander, Major-General Etewe Emmanuel, rumoured to have the professionalism that characterized the JTF days of Omoregie, Ochoga and Debiro, should wake up to his responsibilities. The JTF in the Niger Delta should be the type that demonstrates capability to forestall acts of criminality, not one that waits languidly on the waterfront until a harm is done and then seen responding with rocket launchers and other sophisticated weapons against invaders. That would be an analogue strategy rather than a digital approach in this age of increasing security challenges.
Regrettably, the archaic analogue approach is fast becoming the military strategies of Ayakoromo and Okwagbe JTF formations in the containment of any acts of criminality or breakdown of law and order in the Niger Delta.
Maybe the overall officer in charge of the Ayakoramo and Okwagbe JTF formations feels a great repulsion against the use of digital approach in security matters. This should be an open invitation to the JTF commander to visit these two JTF formations to energise and sensitise them to be promptly proactive in intelligence-gathering and response to verifiable distress calls in their areas of operation.
The JTF formations in Ayakoromo and Okwagbe, probably in questionable obeisance to orders from their overall boss in Utu-Jeremi, have forgotten their responsibility to ensure the security of life and property in the surrounding communities. Just as illegal blunkerers are promptly arrested by JTF soldiers in routine patrol and brought to book, any acts of invasion and criminality in the surrounding communities should be promptly arrested.
However, anytime reports of criminal acts in the surrounding communities are brought to these formations, they are treated with levity by merely promptly calling their boss in Utu-Jeremi and responding shortly that it is not their responsibility to stop acts of invasion and criminality.
To them such reports should be forwarded to the police. Common sense demands immediate stoppage of such acts of criminality and leaving the niceties of prosecution to the police. To stop or to end any acts of invasion and criminality in the surrounding communities is the hallmark of proactive strategy hitherto typical of the JTF formation in the recent past, particularly the formations in Okwagbe and Ayakoromo in the days of major-general Omoregie.
On July 30, 2014, a report of one Mr. Ghana from Akparemogbene community in Burntu Local Government whose home was invaded by some persons from a neighboring community and his motor-saw forcefully taken away, was brought to the JTF formation in Ayakoromo and Okwagbe for prompt rescue action. But the soldiers termed it a responsibility for the police because no death had occurred.
A counter-action from the invaded community could lead to total breakdown of law and order. If JTF formations cannot take pre-emptive action against impending acts of criminality in their areas of operation, the purpose of their deployment to the area is defeated. The JTF formations are supposed to be the police in their area of operation and so must not abdicate their responsibilities.
With the analogue brand of professionalism demonstrated by Ayakoromo and Okwagbe JTF formations, communal acts of criminality and invasion bound to snowball into total communal war would soon become a legitimate occurrence in the surrounding communities because unstoppable acts of invasion could breed counter-invasion.
The mandate of JTF formations is not limited to elimination of illegal bunkering and kidnapping but it also includes and kidnapping but it also includes and of strategies conceptualised to stop any reported case of impending criminality or invasion in the Nigeer Delta. A stitch in time saves naine.
Ekanpou Enewaridideke, a political analyst, wrote from Warri, Delta State.