02 November 2016, Yenagoa –- A group in the Niger Delta region, Bakassi Strike Force (BSF), has expressed the desire to lay down their arms if the Federal Government addressed their concerns. A leader of the group, Mr Simply Benjamin, aka ‘Humble Lion G1’ made the call in a telephone interview in Yenagoa on Tuesday.
Benjamin said that the group was not out to vandalise national assets but for the wellbeing of his people who resided in Bakassi, now ceded to Cameroon.
The leader, who spoke from his camp in the creeks of southern Cross River, said that unlike other militant groups, it had no record of oil installation destruction or molestation of the citizens.
He said that in spite of offering to work with the government to address the concerns of the Bakassi returnees, the military had been on his trail and disrupting residents near his camp.
“The BSF has been agitating against the poor implementation of the Greentree Agreement after ceding Bakassi to Cameroon, leaving Nigerians resident in the peninsular without proper resettlement.
“We are ready to lay down our arms and embrace dialogue under a process to be brokered by the international community to ensure that Nigerian returnees are properly resettled and rehabilitated.
“Our grievance against the Federal Government has to do with the way Nigeria ceded our ancestral land to Cameroon without recourse to the feelings and rights of the people to self-determination.
“Under the Greentree Agreement, there are steps to be taken to ensure that the fundamental rights of the returnees are protected but the government has not fulfilled its obligations under the agreement,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Joint Military Force deployed to the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, said that it had degraded the capacity of the group and had intensified operations to flush out its members. Lt.-Col. Olaolu Daudu, the spokesman of the joint force, had in a statement said that troops raided the BSF camp on Oct. 29.
“Troops of Sector 4 deployed at Efut Esighi in Southern Cross River State during anti-militancy operation raided Efut Esighi forest and killed a notorious militant popularly known as Okon Iyo while he was trying to escape.
“Similarly, troops discovered the dead body of one of the Bakassi Strike Force militants who was earlier engaged in Efut Esighi but escaped with gun injuries,” Daudu said.
Meanwhile, troops also raided the compound of a suspected member of the BSF, Mr. Otobong Sunday Essien, at Road 27 Resettlement Centre, Bakassi. The spokesman assured law-abiding members of the communities of their safety in the ongoing military crackdown on the militants.