The Nigerian Military Joint Task force (JTF) went amok on rebels in the Niger Delta, in a bid to clamp down the miscreants, recover arms and ammunition and impose the rule of law in the troubled region. Two militant camps in the region were attacked and destroyed, leaving several rebels dead.
The Nigerian troops who are reported to have acted on credible intelligence report, conducted a cordon siege of the Delta state and Rivers state rebel hideouts in the weekend. It was operation fire-for-fire.
The militants were however not to be subdued without a fight as an intense stand off ensued. After bouts of violent gunfight, the JTF troops proved too strong for the rebels who fled into the surrounding forests and creeks.
The retreating rebels were chased in and out of their camps and hideouts. “The militants fled after the initial encounter and took refuge in their camp which was razed down by the troops,” said Colonel Rabe Abubakar, military spokesperson of the JTF.
The JTF forces destroyed the camps beyond inhabitation, making it hard for the rebels to return. “Some dead bodies of the militants were found and several arms and ammunition were also recovered at the camp,” the Colonel added.
The number of dead rebels is yet to be disclosed, but military reports claim that there were no casualties on the JTF side. Observers are unsure if the use of force will bring a lasting solution to the Niger Delta crisis is the right step, but the JTF thought the military invasion is justified.
The Niger Delta is packed with unemployed youths and guns are reported to be in good supply. The deprived young men are described as capable of attacking oil businesses, civilians and the military alike as they fight for their share of the oil wealth.
Their illegal bunkering and oil theft is reported to be an industry that makes £30m ($60m) a day. Thus, intermitent violent clashes between the security forces and the militants have continued as the men are unwilling to give up the lucre.
However, it is reported that the young men in the troubled region are asembled by very powerful politicians and influetial top ranking Nigerians, to carry out this illegal practices on their behalf.
According to a 2008 report on BBC, a source close to the former government of President Olusegun Obasanjo had warned the Nigerian government that: “If the president goes after them (the top ranking God-fathers who own the rebel cartels), they could destabilize the country, cause a coup, or a civil war. They are that powerful, they could bring the state down.”