FOLLOWING the military bombardment of Arepo area of Ogun State and parts of Lagos State by the military on Thursday, a leader of the vandals operating in the creeks has said his group lost 19 men and many injured in the attack even as he said they were ready to surrender to federal might.
Speaking with Saturday Sun in a phone interview, a man who identified himself as Honourable Omomoh, General Secretary, Forest Soldiers and Adaka Boro Last Born, said his group is only interested in disarmament, reconciliation and reintegration it agreed with the government, saying they haven’t changed their position.
Omomoh stated that as soon as their arms are collected by the government, “all these issues of criminality will not be the order of the day,” saying “we are going to secure everywhere.” Recall that the Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, had confirmed the operation which he said involved the Army, Airforce and the Navy.
The police, DSS and Civil Defence Corps, were also said to be part of the operation to flush out criminal elements from the areas. Abubakar said the operation was a routine one by the military for the purpose of denying the vandals and other criminal elements from causing terror in the area.
But tracing the group’s interaction with the government, Omomoh said the Federal Government, through the Petroleum Minister, approached them in company with an Army Colonel, some dignitaries which include officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Amnesty office who visited their camps and said the Federal Government was interested in disarming the vandals and would be followed by reconciliation and reintegration into the society which the vandals accepted.
Omomoh however said since the visit, the vandals put an end to siphoning petroleum products, saying while they were hoping that the disarmament would take place, it was surprising to learn that the move has been put on hold due to the current economic recession which affected the budget of the Amnesty Office.
“We were expecting the disarmament and surprisingly, we heard that the meltdown of the economy affected the budget of the Amnesty Office, and that there is no money, that we should be calm. We have been calm for a while but suddenly, what we saw yesterday (Thursday) was bombardment; bombarding the camps with Air Force warplane in which children and women died.
“They dropped five bombs in Arepo area, Elepete, Abuloba in Isawo area and at the same time in Ibafo end. We lost 19 persons and 10 others sustained injuries,” Omomoh said.
On the issue of kidnapping, Omomoh absolved his group of any blame, saying they are vandals and not kidnappers.
On what led to the bombardment, he said what his group heard was that it was in connection with kidnapping which occurred in Agbara which they investigated and discovered it was purely as a result of business connection that led to the kidnapping saga.
“We have been assisting the government concerning some kidnappers. We discovered that because of the numbers of ammunition in the possession of people, before you know, two or three will conspire and commit crime,” Omomoh stated.
He added that his group has not deviated from its agreement with the government on disarmament, reconciliation and reintegration, saying in the prevailing circumstance, they too, may be forced to engage the military.
“But we don’t want all that. We want peace in the country, we want peace in the Niger Delta, and we want peace in the South West. So, what we are interested in is the disarmament that we agreed upon.