Group asks FG to withdraw JTF from Imo oil communities

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By Chinonso Alozie

Owerri—A pressure group, Imo Mass Movement, IMM, has called on the Federal Government, to quickly withdraw the men of the Joint Military Task Force, deployed to the Awarra Court Area in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, to avoid truncating the ongoing conflict resolution process in the area.

This was stated in a release exclusively issued to Vanguard yesterday in Owerri and signed by the Publicity Secretary of IMM, Comrade Marcellinus Enyia.

The group said the peace building process has already been threatened by the deployment of the military in the affected areas adding that, the use of military, which has opted for the use of “force” as alternative to peace would further displace the people in the oil rich communities as well as cripple their social lives and economic activities. They also expressed disappointment that at a point of recording commendable strides in restoring peace in the troubled areas, the military entered.

They also alleged that some disgruntled elements from the affected communities and government officials are bent on destroying the peace process which they said had long been initiated by the Conflict Prevention Committee, CPC, of Partners for Peace in the Niger Delta, (P4P), Imo State Network.

“The violent conflict in Awarra Court Area is cause by long period of neglect by the multinational oil companies operating in the court area.”

“The Imo Mass Movement (IMM) note with dismay the recent deployment of the joint military taskforce to Awarra Court Area in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area (L.G.A) Imo State by the Imo State Government in connivance with some elites of Awarra Court Area of Ohaji-Egbema L.G.A.”

“Since July 2, 2016 after the Peace Building Consultative meeting of members of Conflict Prevent Committee (CPC) of Partners for Peace in the Niger Delta (P4P) Imo State Network with the leaderships and commanding hierarchy of the two armed militant groups – Niger Delta Rescue Force (NDRF) and Niger Delta Red Squad (NDRS) met in Ochia and Awarra Autonomous Communities respectively to agree on temporary cease fire. We note that the meeting was very fruitful because since after the meeting and cease fire agreement, members of the communities who were taking refuge in neighbouring communities started returning to the communities to commence their economic and social life.”

“IMM call on Imo State and the Federal government of Nigeria not to use military option to crush the upsurge of militancy in the Awarra Court Area which has crippled economic and social activities in the area since over three years the violent conflict got escalated.”

“On the foregoing, we call on the Imo State and Federal Government of Nigeria to compel the multinational oil companies operating in the area – Waltersmith Petroman Oil Ltd, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to stop the ongoing policy of divide and rule.”

“Finally, we call on the Imo State and Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately withdraw the joint military taskforce recently deployed to Awarra Court Area and to engage the services of the Peace building and mediation experts to continue the ongoing peace building process in the area. Violent cannot be a solution to violent – Awarra Court Area need peace.” they stated.

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