FORMER MILITANTS OFFER TO HELP NIGER DELTA COMBAT PIRACY

Nigerian Army Amphibious Forces patrol in a river gunboat armed with a DShk 12.7mm machine gun

Nigerian Army Amphibious Forces patrol in a river gunboat armed with a DShk 12.7mm machine gun

VOICE OF AMERICA
Heather Murdock
(06 Sep)
ABUJA, Nigeria

Former militants are offering to help security forces combat what appears to be a surge in piracy and kidnapping in the Niger Delta. This comes after a report that the government pays other former militant leaders millions of dollars yearly to protect the oil pipelines they used to attack.

”Peace” in the Niger Delta is an expensive balancing act, and the people that keep it regularly change alliances to maintain the calm or make the most of the funds.

Between 2003 and 2009 it was an all-out battle in the Niger Delta. Militants say they were fighting oil companies and the government for the people’s share of Nigeria’s considerable oil wealth. Foreign oil giants and the government extract more than 2.5 million barrels of crude oil daily from the region.

Payment program generates great demand

In 2009, the government rolled out an amnesty program, investing tens of millions of dollars in paying fighters to lay down their weapons and get job training. Since then, former militants – or freedom fighters – have jockeyed for a larger share of the amnesty funds, now hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that individual former militant leaders are beingpaid between $3.8 million and $22.9 million a year to protect the oil infrastructure they used toattack. Not all militant leaders have been so lucky.

Captain Mark Anthony is a spokesperson for the Niger Delta Liberation Front, a group that claims to be operational, but not currently fighting. In June, Anthony said his group was preparing for battle and demanded more than $6 million to keep the peace.

He now says the government should pay him and his men to protect communities from a new crime wave that the Nigerian police say includes 32 kidnappings in August alone.

”Insecurity is everywhere, particularly kidnapping,” said Anthony. “And we felt that we could give support to the security authorities and the state if we are allowed because we know what is happening. We are from the roots, from the communities.”

Turnabout for militant group’s counsel

Casely Omon-Ihabor is a lawyer who represents Anthony’s group. A few months ago, he railed against the government, saying it had paid off some militants to make peace, but had done nothing to fix the issues they were fighting for.

In recent months, though, he says kidnapping and armed robberies have become near-daily events and this has changed his mind. Now he wants the group to help the government fight criminals so the government can focus on development.

”So somebody should put their hands on deck to avoid anything that will undermine the development of the Niger Delta,” said Omon-Ihabor. “We don’t want the federal government to have an excuse not to develop the Niger Delta. So we are not going to support kidnappers or armed robbery.”

Challenging the conventional wisdom

Nigerians are generally fond of sayings – like ”it takes a thief to catch a thief” – and many agree with this logic. Others, however, think the whole idea of paying former militants to fight crime is absurd.

Edward Oforomeh is another lawyer in Warri, a run-down oil city in the Niger Delta known for frequent kidnappings.He said the government should spend more money equipping their security forces and none toward paying former militants.

“They are hoodlums. As far as I am concerned, they are hoodlums,” said Oforomeh. “Train the people on the ground. Train the police. Give them the wherewithal to do their jobs.”

Oforomeh said the Nigerian police have the capacity to fight crime, but lack training and equipment. He said re-arming the same groups that created chaos in Niger Delta years ago would just re-create the chaos.

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from Warri, Nigeria

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About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
This entry was posted in AFRICA PARTNERSHIP STATION, AFRICAN ARMED FORCES, ARMED CONFLICT, BUNKERING, COUNTERINSURGENCY OPERATIONS, GLOBAL DEFENCE NEWS, GULF OF GUINEA, JOINT(MILITARY)TASK FORCE IN THE NIGER DELTA, MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY, MILITARY HARDWARE, MILITARY PHOTOS, NIGER DELTA CONFLICT, NIGERIA, NIGERIA POLICE FORCE, NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES, NIGERIAN MILITARY HISTORY, NIGERIAN PARAMILITARY FORCES, NIGERIAN SPECIAL FORCES, PIRACY, RISK ANALYSIS, SECURITY ISSUES AND CONCERNS, STATE SECURITY SERVICE, TERRORISM, WEST AFRICAN STANDBY FORCE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to FORMER MILITANTS OFFER TO HELP NIGER DELTA COMBAT PIRACY

  1. wocon45 says:

    “”Peace” in the Niger Delta is an expensive balancing act, and the people that keep it regularly change alliances to maintain the calm or make the most of the funds.”
    let’s always keep that in mind…

  2. jimmy says:

    Eventually TRAGICALLY this gravy TRAIN WILL COME TO AN END what are we on the third ammnesty the total number of people who feel AGGREIVED is beginning to cast serious doubt on the whole process.

  3. doziex says:

    Mr. Edward Oforomeh, in this article, in right on the money. Equip the police, and the security forces, so they can do their damn job.

    Did anybody consult any of the generals that led JTF wars in the delta ? Did president GEJ consult major general lawrence Ngubane or major general Yaki- sarkin Bello, before he decided to hand out cash to these militants, with no strings attached ?

    Is the nigerian military or are our special forces supervising the organisational structure and the conduct of these militants turned businessmen ? or is the government just dumping cash on them, hoping they would just go away.

    If these militants don’t observe a credible “STICK” from the government in the form of a security presence equipped with over a hundred transport and attack helicopters, and armored gunboats, swift boats, amphibious APCs numbering in the thousands, they would simply escalate the problem, and extort the government for more and more money.

    Kudos to any of the former militants, who want to contribute to law and order. As no development would take place in the current environment.

    The niger delta finally has a native son in Aso rock, who would at least have a sympathetic ear to the plight of people in the region. These so called freedom fighters, thru their individual greed, are on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  4. jimmy says:

    IRONICALLY I have been a critic of GEJ for a long time but it appears that greed, infighting and not knowing when to take a chill pill will be there undoing,
    GENTELMEN I go back to the beginning of the amnesty when the ink had not even dried on the
    agreement when the militants who up until that point had enjoyed even unplaced sympathy in various parts of the nation decided to bomb the atlas cove and the abuja bombing just like that overnight they destroyed public sympathy for them now we are witnessing the same thing . THIS IS NOT 1999 much of the public SYMPATHY and underground support is gradually ERODING due to their INCESSANT demands

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