The navy has urged militants to embrace dialogue for the sake of peace. It warned that it may use force if dialogue fails – Militants in Lagos have faced serious attack from the air force The Nigerian navy has expressed optimism in the possibility of dialogue bringing an end to Niger Delta militancy but warned that it may use force if it fails.

The region has been affected by series of bombing of oil and gas pipelines by militants with the notorious being the Niger Delta Avengers that has claimed responsibility for some of the bombings. NAN reports that Commodore Christian Ezekobe issued the warning to the militants and advised them to embrace dialogue for their own sake.

“What has posed some level of challenge is the re-emergence of militancy in the Niger Delta – the blowing up of oil and gas infrastructure, which is crucial to the nation’s survival “This we are grappling with right now. “Over the news you would have heard of various levels of arrest being made and handover of suspects to DSS also being made and so on “But we are praying for a political solution a way of dialogue and political intervention “However, where that fails, we are more than ready to take the military option.”

He noted that between June 2015 and Dec. 2015, the rate of maritime-related crimes at the sea dropped but there was resurgence in February 2016 and continued up to April until Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas initiated Operation ‘Tsare Teku’. “Since April, when ‘Operation Tsare Teku’ was initiated, we have had only two cases (of maritime-related crimes). “When it was initiated, the operation was to last 90 days.”

Ezekobe said the navy had acquired boats from an indigenous firm for use to patrol the creeks, rivers and rives in the region and that oil thieves who were moving from the hinterland to the sea where apprehended. “So, overtime, we are going to see that our partnership with Epenal leads to the mass production of patrol boats within the creeks and rivers of the Niger Delta.

But the solution to that problem is land-based and like I said, all the agencies of government need to intensify their efforts so that we can all solve the problem.” He noted that Operation Awatse has been a success in checkmating the activities of militants especially in Lagos. “The operation has addressed this issue and largely eliminated pipeline vandalism – at least in the Lagos lagoon area.”

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