The chest-beating claim by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that it was responsible for the killing of 15 policemen in Azuzuama creek in Bayelsa State is condemnable.
MEND’s spokesperson, Gbomo Jomo, had, rather pompously, claimed that his men were responsible for the cruel death of 15 policemen. “We hope this encounter will serve as a lesson to Joint Task Force (JTF) from making careless utterances that cannot be backed as we remain resolute in our resumption of hostilities,” the group said.
Recall that the militant group had threatened to resume hostilities in the Niger Delta following the recent conviction and subsequent jailing of its leader, Henry Okah, in South Africa. Okah was found guilty of masterminding the two explosions in March and October 2010 in Abuja FCT and Warri, Delta State. He was also found guilty of constituting a security risk to South Africa.
MEND ought to be grateful that Okah was not given a death sentence for the attacks that left many families destabilised. Staging an attack on government, its agents or facilities by MEND as a protest against Okah’s just incarceration amounts to another level of confrontation.
In our thinking, government has been magnanimous to have given the olive branch by way of amnesty to all Niger Delta militants who availed themselves of the opportunity. That MEND spurned at the offer and prefers to hold the country to ransom should not be blamed on anybody.
The amnesty option was hailed by all Nigerians as a right decision by the Federal Government. As of today, Nigeria has spent several billions of naira in the rehabilitation programme. When it was thought that all militants and their leaders in the zone would have been happy for the emergence of one of their brothers as the president of the country, they are instead threatening fire and brimstone. This actually amounts to overstepping their bounds.
We condemn the proliferation of firearms in the country which has been made possible by a few people who use their ill-gotten wealth to sponsor militancy. The monster which some politicians created to oil their political machinery is now on rampage. While such leaders were in office, they built individuals rather than institutions. This is also the genesis of the Boko Haram sect that has turned to Frankenstein’s monster.
Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan called for control on sale of light arms in line with the passage of a treaty on arms control by the United Nations. Government must wake up from its slumber and take a decision on how to block the nation’s porous borders and strengthen the police that have been largely inefficient.
The problem of corruption is still a huge threat to effective policing. Whereby those responsible for importation of illegal arms into the country are not punished because they are well connected to the seat of power, Nigeria would continue to remain a den of robbers and unrepentant militants who terrorise innocent citizens by simply arming themselves with all manner of arms and explosions.
But in all of this, we blame a government that appears weak, which, with the enormous power at its disposal, has allowed the country to assume the status of a banana republic where anything goes.