The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has ruled out negotiations with the Niger Delta Avengers.Buratai said the strategy is to first smoke the militants out of hiding.
Buratai made the position of the Federal Government known on Tuesday in Abuja at the “State of the Nation Conference” organised by the Nigerian Bar Association.
Buratai, who was represented by Major General J. Hamakim, justified the ongoing onslaught against members of the Niger Delta Avengers.He said: “I quite agree that dialogue is very important.
“But where it is not too obvious that the adversary is ready to come out and talk, you can also force such a person.“I think that is what the Nigerian Army is trying to do.“Yes, we don’t know the group’s leaders for now.
“That is the only option.“Possibly, we have to bring the people out to know who you can dialogue with.”Buratai said the activities of the group were affecting the nation’s oil production, which has plummeted to 1.1 million barrels per day.
Buratai also spoke on the confrontation between the Nigerian Army and pro-Biafra protesters on Monday.He said: “Remember that lives were lost; policemen were killed; some were thrown overboard and the military has rules of engagement.“The question is how peaceful is the peaceful demonstration?
“How peaceful was the demonstration at that time?“If it was that peaceful, how come we lost security agents?“The rule of engagement is that if you feel threatened, you have the mandate to respond.
“What we can say is: that was not at all a demonstration that you can say was peaceful.”Buratai said other security agencies were “overwhelmed” during the protest, hence the deployment of the military.