The Joint Task Force (JTF) code named Operation Delta Safe have arrested six suspected militants in connection with series of attacks on national assets last year in some parts of Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Sources disclosed yesterday that the suspects, including a commander, identified as Bounanawei Smith alias ‘King of the Forest’, were apprehended at a private guest house on Esiso Estate in Warri by a combined team of military officers.
Investigations revealed that Smith was arrested late last Saturday while holding a meeting with others while some escaped from the military onslaught.
“The military last Saturday night stormed a guest house owned by Bounanawei Smith alias ‘King of the Forest’. He was arrested along with five others, including Oyinkuro Dofa, Sunny Amange, Ebimene Monday, Churchill Agbelogode,” the source disclosed.
Though the Spokesman of Joint Media Campaign Centre of Operation Delta Safe, Lieutenant Colonel Olaolu Daudu, could not be reached for confirmation, the Spokesman of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, confirmed the arrests.
He said those arrested were IYC members and that they were holding a meeting when soldiers invaded the venue.
“The IYC states that the federal government is inciting crisis in the Niger Delta region by the incessant invasion, arrest and detention of Niger Deltans especially ex-agitators without any justifiable reason.
“The latest of such invasion and arrest is the commando style arrest of ex-agitator, Bounanawei Smith (alias King of the Forest) in the late hours of last Saturday. Bounanawei was arrested while hosting some IYC members in his guest house on Esiso Estate, Warri, by a combined team of military officers,” he said.
Omare condemned what he described as naked, primitive and unwarranted display of force, recalling that it was on record that Bounanawei had since accepted amnesty and has been very active in maintaining peace and security in the Niger Delta especially in Delta State.