Members of the Bakassi Strike Force (BSF), a militant group in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s oil-producing hub, have surrendered some of their weapons to demonstrate their readiness to lay down arms if the Federal Government addressed their concerns.
Lieutenant Colonel Olaolu Daudu, the spokesman of the Joint Military Force in the Niger Delta, confirmed the development in a statement issued on Wednesday in Yenagoa.
Colonel Daudu revealed that the Cross River Command of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the government of Cross River were involved in working out the terms of the surrender. He disclosed that the militant group had turned in one General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) and an AK 47 rifle as a show of good faith towards the peace deal.
“Available information from Sector 4 in Cross River State indicates that Bakassi Strike Force (BSF) militants led by one Mr. Benjamin Ene have expressed unreserved willingness to lay down their arms. They have contacted the Department of State Service in Cross River State through the state government’s appointed rapporteur on amnesty to signify their readiness to hold talks on amnesty with the relevant authorities.
“To buttress this demonstration of goodwill, BSF turned in one General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) and an AK 47 rifle.”
Colonel Daudu continued: “The Department of State Service representatives and representatives of the rapporteur have since recovered the arms as talks are ongoing on modalities to surrender their remaining arms.”
The militant group’s leader, Mr. Ene, also known as Humble Lion G1, had on November 1 expressed the desire to surrender in a video message where he listed conditions for surrendering his stockpile of ammunition. The militant leader said his group was not out to vandalize national assets but for the wellbeing of his people who resided in Bakassi, a former region of Nigeria that was ceded to Cameroon.
The leader, who spoke from his camp in the creeks of southern Cross River, said that unlike other militant groups, his group had not participated in the destruction of oil installations or molestation of citizens.
Colonel Daudu said that Brigadier General Kevin Aligbe, the acting Commander of Operation Delta Safe, the joint military force deployed to the Niger Delta, had applauded the militant group’s gesture to surrender and embrace peace.
General Aligbe stated that the military has zero tolerance for militancy and related crimes in the joint operations area and urged other aggrieved groups to emulate the BSF by laying down their arms.
According to Colonel Daudu, the commander advised the other Niger Delta militants groups to embrace the reconciliatory channels open at both state and federal levels.
The military spokesman also said that troops of Sector 3, following a tipoff on Wednesday, reacted swiftly and rounded up suspected sea robbers around Kumfari community near Idama in Rivers State. He said that one suspected sea robber was killed, two wounded and seven others arrested. He disclosed that the troops recovered one locally made pistol and machete. He said that the suspects were undergoing investigation.