Yenagoa -The federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari says it cannot rule out all-out war against the Niger Delta Avengers if peaceful dialogue with the militants fails.
According to the Punch, the minister of defence, Mansur Dan-Alli stated this during a courtesy call on Bayelsa deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah, at the government house in Yenagoa.
Dan-Alli said his visit to Bayelsa state was to see what was on the ground and the operational capability of the armed forces within the zone.
The minister said: “One of the cardinal objectives that brought us here is to look for peace. But we are also preparing in case the peace and negotiations are not favourable.
“We are also on our own side making all the necessary security arrangements so that there will be peace in the Niger Delta.”
When reminded about recent statement credited to the chief of army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai, that the military will resort to the use of force if current efforts at dialogue fails, the minister said “we cannot rule it (force) out.”
When warned that there would be collateral damage if the military declared war on the militants, Dan-Alli said the military operation against militants was an internal security work and cannot be termed as going to war.
He said: “We are not saying that we are going to war; we are doing internal security work and internal security work is not war, and so you cannot start claiming collateral damage.
“We know our rules of engagement, we cannot use forces like that without any mandate. So, collateral damage does not come in here. As far as I am concerned, we are just trying to stop criminality in this general area.”
The defence minister was in company with chief of defence staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin and the commander, operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie.
Meanwhile, prominent Ijaw leaders, including traditional rulers, have converged at the residence of Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark in Warri, to discuss the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta region.
According to the Punch, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state, and the deputy governor of Delta state were still being expected at the meeting as at press time.
The Ijaw leaders are expected to discuss the present happenings in the region and state of affairs in the country, according to a source.