By Jimitota Onoyume
As JTF arrests militant leader, 62 others
The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, (JTF), has paraded a militant leader, Tamunotonye Kuna, aka Obese, and 63 others arrested during their operations to clean up the region of criminals masquerading as militants.
Addressing journalists at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt, commander of the JTF in the region, Major General Charles Omoregie, said the militants that were paraded were behind the recent wave of unrest in the Niger Delta. Omoregie, who dismissed claims in some quarters that there was oil war in the region, said the JTF was gradually wiping the region clean of unwanted elements.
The JTF also paraded a huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered during their operation. They included 45 AK47, 12 general purpose machine guns and assorted ammunition. Also recovered were military uniforms, boots, computers, life vests, arm badges bearing Movement for
the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).
Omoregie said it was regrettable that some militants that benefitted from the Federal Government amnesty programme had gone back to crime in the region, stressing that there was no basis for such. His words, “there is no course for any war in the Niger Delta, but I went further to say that criminality will be eradicated in the Niger Delta.
The issues of emancipation and all that are gone with the amnesty programme put in place by the federal government, but we discovered that even some of those militants granted pardon have all gone back to the creeks to resume criminality.
Like I mentioned, it includes rape, piracy, sea robbery and the worst monster; kidnapping. We are all witnesses to the 19 people who were kidnapped and released few days ago.”
“Some people doubt the capabilities of these boys as mentioned in my brief and that is why I have brought you here today to see the array of weapons that were recovered from this last operation.
These weapons were recovered from about three or four camps that were being run by the leader, Obese Kuna, who released those 19 hostages to us from his camp and volunteered to give himself up. He is the leader of this group; he is the one who did all those kidnappings.”
“But most worrisome is that Obese had accepted amnesty before now, this is his car that shows that he has been fully registered and receiving government’s allowances, based on the agreement of the amnesty. It becomes really worrisome that after accepting amnesty and being included in the programme, why go back to the creeks?
However, we have brought them out of the creek and we hope they will not go back to the creeks”
According to the JTF boss, during their operation they also recovered N673000 from the camps of the militants. Fielding questions from newsmen, the JTF boss said those arrested would be handed over to the State Security Service for further investigation.
Dreaded leader of the militant group, Obese said he actually benefitted from the federal government amnesty programme. But that he was forced to go back to his old ways when his former leader, Farah Dagogo allegedly abandoned him.
According to him, he was in touch with Henry Okah who is on trial in South Africa for the twin bomb blast in Abuja on October 1st this year. He spoke of Okah as his major strength in militancy operations. Obese who sounded remorseful apologised for abductions he had carried out in the region.
He was behind the recent abduction of staff of a multinational oil firm in Akwa Ibom state that regained their freedom last week Wednesday.