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Niger Delta war flares up

By Reuters Staff
May 28, 2009

Nigeria’s security forces have been carrying out their biggest co-ordinated operation for more than a decade – and possibly since the Biafran war – in the Niger Delta this month, using helicopters, aircraft and gunboats as well as three battalions of ground troops to try to flush militants and criminal gangs out of the creeks around Warri.

The military says it has destroyed camps belonging to Government Tompolo in Delta state which were seen as a key training ground for rebel fighters and a hub of oil bunkering – the theft of industrial quantities of crude oil worth millions of dollars a day – in the western delta.

Major-General Sarkin-Yaki Bello, who commanded the operation, has said he ordered a pinpoint helicopter attack on Tompolo’s home in the village of Oporoza on May 15. Local residents said a traditional festival was being held at the time and that hundreds fled into neighbouring communities. They say innocent civilians were killed.

Some Ijaw community leaders have accused the military of a targeted ethnic campaign as soldiers entered remote communities in the delta’s mangrove creeks to try to hunt down suspected gang members believed to have gone into hiding.











But many Nigerians say the military operation was long overdue. Residents in parts of the Niger Delta say their lives have been blighted by the rising criminality of armed gangs masquerading as political militants in recent years, and see the gunmen are plain criminals who are no longer fighting for their cause.

The lower house of parliament has urged the military to extend its campaign to destroy militant camps in other parts of the Niger Delta.

Tompolo, who has amassed a personal fortune from bunkering, appears to have been abandoned by other militant factions in neighbouring Rivers and Bayelsa states, with the main retaliatory attacks on the oil industry so far confined to the area around Warri in Delta state and apparently carried out by his own gunmen.

Was the military right to strike Tompolo’s camps? Does the apparent destruction of “Camp 5” make the western delta a safer place for the oil industry and local residents, or will it radicalise angry youths and win them over to the militants’ cause?

Should the military extend its offensive to known militant camps in Bayelsa and Rivers states, or would that stir the hornets’ nest and trigger an upsurge in violence and sabotage of industry installations across the Niger Delta?


The Niger delta criminals who have fled, should be hunted down and arrested or killed. the shameless leaders in the niger delta should just shutup and leave the military to do their job. enough is enough in the niger delta. Ijaw alone is not niger delta and if they think that we the other niger delta nationalities will support them in this so called “struggle”, they are greatly mistaken.

Posted by Dayo | Report as abusive

The Nigerian Government has failed time without number to address the issues of the Niger Delta. Areas that contribute well over 95% of the contry’s revenue but have no pipeborne water, no schools , hospitals. Issues that impact very negatively on the quality of life of the people. It makes no sense to take oil revenue from the Niger Delta and use it to develop other sections particularly the predominantly moslem North that contributes almost nothing to the national economy. Show the world what the government has done over the years with oil revenue in this poverty ravaged areas of the country. Now they come with helicopter gunships, fighter bombers and attack ships to kill innocent people who are clamouring that they get a fair share of what belongs to them. Those who gave orders for the criminal massacre of innocent children, women and the elderly will pay a high price at the end of the day.

Posted by Adam Christopher Okon | Report as abusive

In the history of the world guns have never brought any genuine and lasting peace but dialogue does.People at the end of every war come back to do the same thing they disregard in the beginning (dialogue).I am an advocate of using peaceful negotiation to resolve issues no matter the degree,using guns in the creeks will never bring any genuine and lasting peace rather it will escalate the hostility in the Niger Delta area.Some innocent and peace loving youths whose properties were destroyed or whose parents, brothers, sisters or children were kill during the military offensive might decide to take to arms by joining the militants out of frustration and hopelessness. I will strongly advice the Federal Govt to reverse its decision of force to that of peaceful negotiation in order to safe a regretable out come.We should not forget the events and the slow process that led to the Nigerian civil war. A man who truely loves you cannot advice you to go to war especially when it concerns your own people.Pls Mr President let your special adviser be God and not man.

Posted by Thompson Ogegbene | Report as abusive

It’s very shameful that the PRESIDENT can’t handle the complains and problems of the NIGER DELTA once and for all.DIALOGUE is the best answer to this problem because shooting and killing will not solve the problem it will only expand it at the end there will still be dialogue.So why not dialogue now and find a lasting solution to the NIGER DELTA Problems.Creating a NIGER DELTA MINISTRY is not the solution.The leaders of the NIGER DELTA are the problem and i’m 90% sure beyond all reasonable doubt.


The Nigerian government should continue this move on these criminal elements who have enriched themselves on the blood of the poor residents of the Niger Delta. They cannot claim to represent them as anyone with a different opinion can be killed sumarily. Those giving them support outside the country are showing this by holding demostrations, etc. They need to be investigated. Their campaign of falsehood is clear for all to see.

Posted by George Ajemijerioma | Report as abusive

Any group who decided to pick up arms against the Nigerian government are prepared for the consequences. What is military must be handled militarily. These oil crooks (or call them militants) have incurred the wrath of their own judgments to form an army, bear arms, kidnap, sabotage oil facilities, rob and what have you. One major concern now is to minimize the civilian casualties. Whatever is happening now is long overdue. In fact, one wonders if Nigeria presently possesses a real military until the present campaign in the creeks. Please, the military must continue their campaign to sanitize the creeks once and for all. Enough is enough.

Posted by Ibandan | Report as abusive

Good day,
Fellow country men, it has seems to me our dear president Umaru Yaradua is slack in resolving the securuty issues of the Niger-delta once and for all.
The way and manner militants keep blowing up pipelines and desecrating the delta with oil spill has become appauling. One would wonder if these sole called militants bent on polluting the delta are indeed patriots the Niger-delta requires.
The answer is NO.
I see no reason why the Federal government should keep on meeting the 13% oil derivation aggrement to all problem prone Niger-delta states as it has been showned that the governors of such states are not sincere. They collaborate with the militants, habour them and provide arms and top secret information which amounts to treasonable felony.
This has to stop and sincerely speaking it’s a
I employ the military to take over the entire problem prone Niger-delta, the FG to discontinue to 13% oil derivation until a round table negotiation is finalized.

Angola is turning into Africa’s “dubair” and her government is scoring goals, i see no reason why Nigeria with all her gifts should concede the spot to angola, our government can also refurbish the entire delta to be developed like dubair & Angola.
The activities of militants must stop as there is no true developement in crisis, even when there seems to be one, it is destroyed in the long run.
A word is enough for the wise.
The time to reset is now.
Long live the federal republic.

Posted by Donclericuzio | Report as abusive

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