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Defence HQ deploys patrol jets in Warri

Posted by Sola Adebayo, Warri. on 2004/11/26 | Views: 955 |

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Defence HQ deploys patrol jets in Warri


As fresh tension gripped Warri, Delta State, ahead of the local government poll scheduled for Saturday, (tomorrow), the Defence Headquarters on Thursday deployed three aircraft in the Nigerian Air Force fleet to patrol the oil community.

As fresh tension gripped Warri, Delta State, ahead of the local government poll scheduled for Saturday, (tomorrow), the Defence Headquarters on Thursday deployed three aircraft in the Nigerian Air Force fleet to patrol the oil community.

The military aircraft, it was gathered, will mount aerial surveillance on Warri and its environs as from Friday (today).

It was also learnt that the Federal Government has placed the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta region, Operation Restore Hope, on the alert following unfavourable security reports from the area.

Investigations revealed that the Federal Government ordered intensive security surveillance of facilities considered as strategic and of economic importance to the nation.

It was gathered that the order was in response to the disagreement among the three ethnic groups in the area over the propriety of the council polls on Saturday.

A source in the JTF said the government was concerned that oil facilities in riverine areas of the state might be attacked by the aggrieved parties.

There had been a crisis of confidence among the three warring ethnic groups in the city since 2001.

The Ijaw had insisted that the elections be suspended until all issues which led to the lingering Warri crisis were resolved.

Also, the Urhobo rejected the recent ward delineation carried out by the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission in seven local government areas of Delta Central and Delta South senatorial districts.

The Urhobo had gone to court to stop the election, which the state House of Assembly and DSIEC vowed would take place as scheduled.

On their part, the Itsekiri, through the Iyatsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Mabiaku, said DSIEC could go ahead if newly-created wards in the three Warri council areas would not be recognised for the elections.

A senior Army officer in the JTF, told our correspondent on Thursday that the tension generated by discordant tunes from the three groups informed the task force’s advice to the state government to prevail on DSIEC to suspend the elections.

He said the uncompromising postures of the three ethnic groups in the city, which had generated palpable apprehension, portended fresh outbreak of hostilities.

However, it was learnt that the aircraft from the Airforce Base in Benin would start patrolling the oil city and its riverine communities from Friday.

Commander of the JTF, Brig. Gen. Elias Zamani, confirmed the deployment of the aircraft in a telephone interview with our correspondent.

He said his men were on the alert to crush any act capable of upsetting the prevailing peace in the area.

He said, "We have sent words to our men, on land and on sea, to be ready to protect lives and property. Already, the Airforce has been tasked, the aircraft would be in the air as from Friday.

"There is tension in the city over whether elections should hold or not, and we have alerted our boys to be ready to maintain law and order."

Zamani said regular patrol of Effurun and Warri as well as the waterways had begun in order to check any criminal act.

Besides, he said fresh deployment of personnel had been made in various locations, especially in areas hosting strategic national interests, to complement the existing security network.

Zamani urged all law abiding citizens to conduct their activities without fear of molestation or intimidation.

He gave assurance to the public that the JTF had enough human and material resources to guarantee their safety.

He also advised aggrieved parties to seek redress through constitutional means, rather than taking the laws into their hands.

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