Nigeria: Military vows to fight $16m/day rebel industry

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Nigerian Defense Headquarters have insisted that military operations aimed at wiping out rebels in the Niger Delta will continue until acts of rebellion are totally eradicated in the oil-rich region. The country’s defense authorities have reiterated that while the military carry out their constitutional responsibilities, they are mandated to take reprisal actions against rebels who attack them.

“In the course of carrying out its responsibilities, the military will no longer tolerate or watch criminal gangs slaughter its personnel without response,” Colonel Chris Jemitola, Director, Defense Information (DDI) and Defense spokesman, was quoted as saying.

“what we have observed is the deliberate and repeated unprovoked attacks on Nigeria’s Joint Task Force, the sabotage of oil and gas facilities, the kidnapping for ransom of people and the killing of innocent citizens of the society including children, people of the clergy and the very old citizens. We have also seen the kidnapping and harassment of site workers and contractors carrying out socio-economic development of the area.

“These are all acts of criminality that cannot be condoned by any government and no responsible military leadership will fold his arm and watch its personnel attacked and killed while on official assignment by any criminal gang. Hence, the military was left with no choice than to go after these criminals in order to bring them to book,” Colonel Jemitola told the media, reiterating the resolve of the military to continue its operations in the region.

Powerful countries helping?

The rebellion industry in the Niger Delta is reported to be an industry that makes $60m a day, and the rebels will kill to protect it. Reports have claimed that these rebels are funded with weapons by foreign merchants, and their oil theft has flourished because powerful countries continue to provide them with black market custom, creating the vicious cycle that plagues the Niger Delta today.

As a result, Nigeria’s President Mr. Umaru Yar’Adua described the oil from the Niger Delta as blood oil, just like the trade in diamonds (popularly known as blood diamonds) that fuelled the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. In 2008, the Nigerian president called on the international community to help Nigeria end the trade: By cutting their arms trade and proliferations and ending their patronization of black market oil.

British Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown, in 2008, promised military assistance and training to improve the Nigerian military Joint Task Force’s ability to police the Delta region; but a source close to former Nigerian president, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo warned that killing rebels in boats was not the solution to the problem. However the Defense headquarters have insisted on forceful means to eradicate the rebels and end their atrocities.

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