Fears heighten in Niger Delta as ex-militants, regroup, reactivate camps.

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Fear has enveloped the Niger Delta region, following strong indications that militants are regrouping in different camps located in the creeks of the region.

It was gathered from security sources yesterday that despite the existing amnesty pact between the region and the Federal Government, active militant camps are still being operated in the creeks.

lt was learnt that militants have been operating the camps and using them as safe havens to hide kidnap victims while negotiating for ransom.

A security source said many of such camps still exist in Bayelsa and Delta states, and called on the military to conduct aerial surveillance of various forests, creeks and mangroves to isolate and destroy such camps.

The source, who spoke in confidence, hinted of a notorious forest in Nembe, where he said most of the kidnapped victims are always ferried and kept in different camps.

But, following the exit of former President Goodluck Jonathan and plot by some ex-militant leaders to resurrect the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), tension has returned to the region over fears that militants may unleash violence in the region

It will be recalled that a planned meeting of the group, called by Tompolo in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, generated so much panic and security concerns that later led to its cancellation.

Unconfirmed reports, however, said that some of the ex-militant leaders later met secretly at an undisclosed location in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

Meanwhile, the security outfit, Operation Pulo Shield (OPS), formerly known as the Joint Task Force (JTF), is said to be combing the creeks to locate and destroy such camps.

Commander, OPS, Major-General Alani Okunola, said the outfit has arrested some suspected militants in the Niger Delta.

Okunola, who assumed duty as the OPS commander last Wednesday, said the suspects were nabbed during a raid on a militants’ camp at Benigboye in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

During the operation, which took place on September 5, he said the suspected militants, on sighting the OPS troops, opened fire on them.

Okunola said the action of the militants led to a 30-minute gun battle between the militants and the operatives.

He said the suspected militants later abandoned the camp and escaped with their wounded colleagues.

He added that the troops combed the area and discovered sophisticated weapons, including Medium Machine Gun, AK 47 light machine gun and AK 47 automatic rifle.

Okunola said: “Other weapons recovered from the suspected militants are one Fabrique Nationale, SMI and G3 rifled.

“The troops also recovered one single barrelled gun, 7.62mm Nato special ammunition, 11 quantity of improvised explosive devices, identity cards belonging to Oroso Kpasco, Iyadoufega Nuwent,  Clifford Ebikabowei and Emmanuel Stanley.

“Also recovered was an Automated Teller Machine card belonging to Mr. Ingo Kpasco, a suspected hoodlum at Odimodi community recently.”

The OPS commander said the camp was destroyed while the recovered arms and ammunition remain in the custody of OPS.

Okunola said during the operation, one Mr. Ebiwame Lamia, who escaped from the September 5 raid was arrested, adding that Lamia later confessed that he was at the previous camp when it was raided.

He warned criminals in the region to desist from all acts of illegalities, vowing that the OPS would continue to match word with action in the fight against criminalities in line with the zero tolerance campaign.

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