G A Okoro, MBA President,
Council of Ijaw Associations Abroad
2811 McKee Road, #133F
San Jose California 95127
Dear Mr. Okoro,
Thank you for your letter of 23 November to the Prime Minister concerning the situation in Bayelsa State. I have been asked to reply. We closely monitor developments in the Niger Delta. We have expressed our concerns to the Nigerian government about the deployment of troops to Bayelsa State. However, President Obasanjo has made it clear that he has not declared a state of emergency in the State, and that the troops were deployed to capture a gang who murdered 12 policemen. The troops have now been withdrawn, and replaced by police. There are reports of civilian and military casualties, but numbers are still unclear. The Nigerian authorities have a responsibility to maintain law and order throughout Nigeria, including the Niger Delta. However, we urge them to show restraint, and to use the minimum force necessary to resolve the situation. We also urge the Nigerian government to recognise the legitimate grievances of all the communities in the Delta. We also urge the communities to resolve their differences through dialogue, not violence.
Stephen Townsend African Department (Equatorial)