Tension has gripped residents of coastal communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, following an alleged deployment of several military houseboats in readiness to invade the communities.
Acting secretary of Gbaramatu Traditional Council, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, who confirmed the situation to journalists on Thursday in Warri, said the Nigerian security forces had allegedly planned to carry out the onslaught through the use of the military houseboat that is being stationed at Oporoza waterfront.
“Gentlemen of the press, I called you here to address the burning security issues around the Niger Delta and particularly as it affects the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West LGA of Delta State.
“It has come to our knowledge, that the security forces of Nigeria are planning another onslaught of the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom and they are going to use military houseboat to be stationed right at Oporoza waterfront with the guise of looking for militants,” the Benemowei of Gbaramatu kingdom alleged.
According to him, “This planned action of the Nigerian military is capable of derailing the fragile peace that some of us have struggled to achieve in the past few months.
Let it be known that the presence of military houseboats have never stopped these militants from attacking critical oil facilities, to the effect that even pipelines very close to the said military houseboats are attacked either with the connivance of the military, or without the military knowing
One now wonders the rational behind stationing military houseboat at the waterfront of Oporoza.”
The Gbaramatu chief averred that the plan, as far as the people were concerned, was meant to invade the privacy of the people living in the area.
“We see this plan as an invasion on the privacy of the people of Gbaramatu kingdom and Oporoza the headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom in particular.
“We have not forgotten what similar actions were done in our area in the recent past.
“Earlier this year, the military people stationed at Ikpokpo who were charged with the responsibility of guarding the NNPC node at Ikpokpo, could not stop militants from blowing up that same node they were supposed to guard not quite 70 meters from their station.
“Instead of performing their legal duties, they went to Tebujoh/Okpellama and shot a sand scupper to death.
“If not for the intervention of the Gbaramatu Traditional council that would have resulted to a major crisis.
“As it is now there are so many military houseboats stationed across the Niger Delta, this has not stopped the militants from attacking if they so desired.
“As for Gbaramatu Kingdom, it is a military zone, there is a military station in Ikpokpo another military houseboat at Ibafan.
“There is also a military houseboat at Kengha Gbene ( Abiteye ).There is another one in TekeyeGbene ( Kokodiagbene, Otunana).
“Another one in Jones creek, another one in Seiturobubor. There is a big military formation stationed in former Camp 5.
“There is also a military houseboat in Sengbene. If all these military formations around the Kingdom cannot stop the bombing, while station another in Oporoza waterfront or is somebody somewhere using this as a money spinning venture?” Gbenekama demanded.
He called on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to quickly call his military people to order to save Gbaramatu people from another invasion, harassment and sudden death from trigger-happy military men.
He also called on the agitators/militants to sheathe their sword so that “we do not give the Federal Government which has beg foot-dragging all this while not to do the needful.”
Tension-soaked residents of the coastal area said the planned onslaught could derail the dialogue process already started by the Chief Edwin Clark’s Pan-Niger Delta Peace Forum with the Federal Government and a meeting billed for October 31.
Although officers of the 3 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Effurun and Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA) could not be reached for reactions amid several phone calls, one of the military houseboats manned by fierce-looking soldiers, natives of Gbaramatu said, was being stationed at the waterfront of Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, in readiness for the alleged planned invasion.
The planned invasion, Nigerian Tribune pieced, might not be unconnected with last Tuesday’s resumption of hostilities by members of the dreaded Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) in which an offshore export delivery line belonging to oil giant, Chevron was downed.
It will be recalled that leaders from the Niger Delta have been invited by the Presidency for a meeting on October 31 to seek a way to kick-start a dialogue process, and the people of Gbaramatu are apprehensive if the planned onslaught would not derail the peace process.
The NDA, through its spokesperson on Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Mudoch Agbinibo, warned that “Any attempt to use dialogue to distract us so as to allow the free flow of our oil will halt the dialogue process.”