WE WILL USE FORCE IF MILITANTS REJECT DIALOGUE : NIGERIAN ARMY
Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai yesterday warned that the Army will use force if the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militant groups reject dialogue with the Federal Government.
Recall that the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bori-Ogoni, the headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, was last Friday set on fire – barely one week to the inconclusive rerun polls.
Gen. Buratai said, the army will support civil authority during the elections in eight local governments, should there be a request for help.
Gen. Buratai, who was represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division, Enugu, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, spoke yesterday after inaugurating the two-storey administrative headquarters complex, Olympic-size swimming pool and two other projects at the 2 Brigade of the Army.
He also inaugurated four projects at the Military Hospital on Aba Road, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The inauguration was attended by Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike, who was represented by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Kenneth Kobani, and the immediate past Commander of 2 Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Stevenson Olabanji, now the Commander of 3 Brigade, Kano. He initiated the inaugurated projects during his 11-month stay.
The befitting administrative headquarters at 2 Brigade and other projects were started in January, with the foundations laid by Gen. Buratai, and completed within six months.
The swimming pool was constructed for intensive training of army officers and men and to put an end to losing soldiers while operating in the creeks or coastal communities.
The army chief said: “Government is still committed to dialogue (with Niger Delta militants). Whereby this cannot go on, then there could be resort to other means. The non-kinetic means has always been the source first, before government can recourse to the kinetic means (dropping bombs and using bullets, using lethal force/full military action/war or killing people).
“So, there is the need for the Niger Delta Avengers to see reason and dialogue with government.
“Each time the army goes out to work, it works in support of the civil authority and we will continue to do that. If there is a need for the military authority to support the civil authority (during Rivers July 30 rerun), based on need from the police, we will continue to do just that.”
Attahiru declared that the army expected that the projects would translate to greater performance of soldiers, stressing that attention should be devoted to maintenance of the projects.
The commander of 3 Brigade, Kano, described projects as highpoint events of his 11-month stay as commander of 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt.
Gen. Olabanji said some soldiers of the 2 Brigade were lost, in view of their inability to swim, which necessitated the construction of the Olympic-size swimming pool – in line with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff. The projects, he said would enhance the capacity and capability of soldiers.
The commander of 3 Brigade revealed that Gen. Buratai chose the site of the headquarters building of 2 Brigade and followed the progress of work till completion. He urged the army personnel in 2 Brigade to support the new commander, as they supported him.