Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image Nigeria: Military – We Won’t Use Excessive Force

This Day (Lagos)
10 August 2007
Ahamefula Ogbu and Juliana Taiwo, Port Harcourt

As rampaging cultists continued their siege on Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, the Directorate of Defence Information has said that the military is capable of protecting the people of Niger Delta but has chosen not to use excessive force.

The military is neither weak in any way in the discharge of its duties nor is it incapable of protecting Niger Delta citizens, Director Defence Information, Col. M. D. Yusuf, said.
It was again a different scenario yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, as policemen went on the trail of cultists who had virtually taken over the city rendering it prostrate since Monday.

Many deaths were said to have been recorded in the chase of the rampaging cultists.

Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Ireju Barasua, confirmed to THISDAY that their men chased the cultists round the city but denied knowledge of any death from the encounters which lasted the whole day.

But when THISDAY went to Slaughter Area of the city yesterday morning, no fewer than two corpses, apparently hit by stray bullets in the exchange of fire between the Police and cultists, were seen near the road.

At Artillery, the corpse of a young man was noticed near the rail lines.

The cultists attacked people in Trans Amadi, Slaughter and Woji Road, forcing residents of Ogbogoro and Rumuolumeni to vacate their houses.

The Director of Defence Information said dialogue and peaceful means remained the key elements needed to resolve the agitation of the Niger Delta, explaining that if the Armed Forces were to show excessive force, innocent souls in the region would fall victims.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces are not at war in the Niger Delta,” he said, adding that there was a Joint Task Force comprising the Army, Navy, and the Air Force set up by the Federal Government to provide security for law abiding citizens to go about their normal business.

“The Government has put in place machinery to dialogue with the stakeholders in the region for a lasting solution. The Armed Forces have the wherewithal to provide the necessary weaponry that can wipe out the militants in no time.

“But if the Armed Forces use excessive force, innocent ones in that region will also fall victims. The Nigerian Armed Forces are not at war in the Niger Delta,” he said.

The Armed Forces spokesman said there was no doubt that only few criminally minded elements in the community in the Niger Delta were responsible for the unrest and reckless behaviours, killing or kidnapping of innocent people including children in the name of militancy and agitation.

The cultist attacks also led major oil companies in the city like Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Chevron and other organisations to change their regular security from police to military men drawn from the Joint Military Task Force.

Public Relations Officer of the Second Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt, Major Musa Sagir, said the use of the army to provide security to some companies was not abnormal.

A miffed Governor Celestine Omehia addressed residents of the state late Wednesday night saying the government would not sit by and allow cultists to take over the state.

Omehia’s movement from the Air force Base to the Government House on Wednesday was with extra security.

In his broadcast, the governor warned that what the attackers were engaging in purely criminal activities and that he would no longer tolerate them.

“It is clear that what is happening in the state is not for the freedom fighters, we are no more seeing people fighting for the emancipation of the Niger Delta and in particular, Rivers State. This is certainly not in the interest of our people; it is therefore not acceptable by Rivers people, more so by the government of Rivers State,” he warned.

He said after a due consultation with all security agencies in the state, he came to a firm resolve to handle the matter decisively.

He called on all parents and guardians to restrain their children from engaging in senseless intimidation and violence.

“The Government cannot and will not allow the current situation in which criminal element roam the streets of Port Harcourt with guns, knives and other dangerous weapons to intimidate and humiliate other free citizens of the state. Government has a responsibility to protect citizens from acts of random violence such as we have witnessed within three days running now.

“On assumption of office, we made it clear that some of our brothers who may have been misdirected would be pardoned as long as they renege, confess, we are ready to rehabilitate them, the government has responsibility to rehabilitate all of them and fund their economic wellbeing but from what we have seen since Monday, it is like deliberate act by the people who are not willing to see to the progress of people in Rivers State and indeed the success of this government.

“Henceforth, anyone who engages in indiscriminate use of firearms, kidnapping, cultism and all the activities inimical to the development of the state will have himself or herself to blame,” he said. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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