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N’Delta: Lawmakers Seek Extension of JTF’s Duty Tour
« on: October 17, 2009, 08:20:28 PM »
The South-South Parliamentary Caucus in the House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government not to be in a haste to withdraw the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), deployed to the Niger Delta region, until it has been fully ascertained that there were no more armed militants and militant camps in the creeks and isolated islands of the oil rich region.
Secretary to the South South Parliamentary Caucus in the House, Honourable Daniel Reyenieju said there should be a limit to the amount of pressure interest groups can bring upon government when it comes to issues of national security.
Reyenieju, in a chat with THISDAY said while every Nigerian should applaud the amnesty programme and the success achieved so far, those calling for the immediate withdrawal of the military from the region were doing so more out of the euphoria of the moment than out of the knowledge  of the real security situation in the region.
“This is a national security issue and we can not force the Federal Government to take certain decisions without considering their implications. The decision to disarm the militant groups was taken by the government in the best interest of the citizenry and as such when the peace has been achieved to a relative height, government knows what to do. It is costing them (government) so much to keep the military in the Niger Delta, so they are not also happy spending huge funds to keep the Joint Task Force (JTF) there. Let us create the needed peaceful atmosphere and when that peace prevails and is seen by all to prevail, the government will have no other option than to pull out the troops stationed in the Niger Delta,” he said.
According to Reyenieju, the Niger Delta region is so vast and so polarised that there are certain parts of the region that would not want the military to move out yet because of the peculiar security situation prevalent in such places over the years. He said that the disarmament and demobilisation process must be allowed to go through its normal course before the peace keeping troops are withdrawn.
He renewed the demand of the parliamentary Caucus for a Consultative Assembly for the region, insisting that the differences of opinions amongst interest groups in the Niger Delta on issues affecting the region has often sent conflicting signals to the government at the centre and portrayed the region in bad light. Reyenieju said the proposed Consultative Assembly will articulate the genuine views of the people of the region and ensure that the region spoke with one voice. This is coming even as fresh voices of agitation against marginalisation and underdevelopment emanate from the region. The latest is the Owaza Consultative Assembly, Abia State which has petitioned the House of Representatives on the plight of the Owaza Autonomous Communities in the Imo River oil and gas field.
President Umar Musa Yar Adua has been under some pressure to withdraw the troops code named, Operation Restore Hope to reciprocate the gesture of the militants who responded to his amnesty offer by surrendering their weapons.