By Emma Amaize
WARRI — THE Niger Delta Liberation Force, NDLF, has called on the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. General Onyeabo Ihejirika, not to exacerbate the needless face-off between the militant group and the Joint Task Force, JTF, on the Niger Delta, by supporting the manhunt for its leader, “General” John Togo, even when he (Togo) had earlier promised to surrender his arms and ammunition.
The group in a statement by its spokesman, “Captain” Mark Anthony, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan “to review the actions of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ihejirika.”
It also said the COAS should be sacked for official irresponsibility and recklessness, “especially for using military aircraft and other lethal weapons to bomb innocent Ayakoromor community under the guise of pursuing NDLF leader, General John Togo, thereby, killing over 100 civilians, making thousands homeless and others permanently disabled with bullet wounds.”
According to the group, “the Chief of Army Staff’s recent comments at Ayakoromor, saying that the army would not stop searching for NDLF leader makes him incompetent”. It added: “We want to say that soldiers are not our target. But the continued harassment of youths and communities by soldiers shall compel us to act otherwise and we urge JTF not to attack innocent communities as reprisal.
“We are worried by the suffering of innocent communities, who have been trapped and caged by soldiers, as many die as a result of insufficient food while NDLF gets uninterrupted supply,” the group added.
Innocent communities that are suffering, that is why NDLF decided to surrender to allow the people start a new beginning.
“But the posture of the Chief of Army Staff makes genuine mindsets to worry how and where he gets his military training to capture armed group without considering the colossal loss of lives. We believed the Chief of Army Staff only wants to risk the lives of poor salary earners in the force by his unprofessional display of gallantry and lack of wisdom”, it added.
NDLF stated, “The Chief of Army Staff chase for NDLF leader is the one that will cause another round of bloody encounter and loss lives (Nigerians) on both sides as usual, as we may make use of our weapons effectively. Pursuing or killing NDLF leader shall not stem violence in Niger Delta as far as the government fails to address the fundamental issues of Niger Delta by convening the post_amnesty conference where a forum could be created for aggrieved ex_militants to express their grievances with the federal government .
The continued pursuit of NDLF leader shall pose the Nigerian economy, especially oil facilities in Niger Delta in jeopardy as they remain our target”.
On the Jos crisis, it said, “NDLF wants to seize this medium to condemn the Jos City bombings, where about 80 persons have been confirmed dead and hundreds of persons wounded. We want to implore the leadership of Nigerian Army and the Joint Task Force (JTF) to continue to bomb Northern villages of suspected culprits of the Jos bombings to curb criminals as is the usual case in Niger Delta”.