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N’Delta: Military May Confront Militants

Posted: Jan 24, 2016 at 12:09 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

A clash is likely between the Nigerian military and Niger Delta militants who have returned to their old ways of bombing oil facilities following the deployment of soldiers to oil pipelines nationwide.

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered on Saturday that the operation to take over the pipelines from the militants and vandals was being jointly undertaken by the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, as well as other security agencies.

It was learnt that the military would deploy all equipment at its disposal, including aircraft, drones and some special pipeline monitoring facilities to protect oil installations nationwide.

Militants

Tompolo

Tompolo

Bombings of oil pipelines resumed in the Niger Delta, particularly Delta State, following a court in order that a militant leader in the area, Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, be arrested for failing to appear in court over a N34bn fraud allegation.

Tompolo had, in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari last week, denied the allegation, urging security agencies to focus their search for pipeline vandals on the leaders of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa and Delta states.

Before the bombing of oil installations in the Niger Delta, vandals had been destroying pipelines at Arepo, Ogun State and some parts of Lagos State.

Buhari, while speaking at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, had vowed to deal with the resurgence of oil theft, vandalism of pipelines and insecurity in the Niger Delta.

Although the security source, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity, did not disclose the number of military personnel that were being deployed nationwide, he said the security agents had already taken over the protection of oil pipelines.

The Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, in an interview with one of our correspondents, confirmed that the military had taken over protection of oil pipelines nationwide.

He said, “They have taken over protection all over Nigeria. It is just modalities that need to be concluded but with this kind of thing, I believe we have enough deployment to oversee all the pipelines in the nation and we will continue to do that.”

“One person or some groups — criminal groups — cannot hold this nation to ransom. Nobody can hold this nation to ransom and will be living, no!

“All security agencies are in top gear to ensure that these people, whoever is involved, will be brought to book and whoever thinks that we cannot do it should try to continue doing it and let’s see who will pay the price at the end of the day.”

When asked the type of equipment that would be used by the military, he said the military would deploy high-tech modern security networks to protect the pipelines from attacks by vandals and saboteurs.

Abubakar restated the determination of the military and other security agencies to track down those behind the last attack on the pipelines in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, last week.

The Defence spokesman had said the government launched Operation AWATSE to ensure the protection of the pipelines.

Investigations revealed that troops of the task force had been deployed to various communities in the Niger Delta in search of suspected vandals.

Confirming the deployment, the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, also known as Operation Pulo Shield, said on Saturday that its troops had taken over the waterways, creeks and pipelines in the oil-rich region.

The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre of Operation Pulo Shield, Col. Ado Isa, disclosed this while speaking with SUNDAY PUNCH in a telephone interview.

Isa said the troops had intensified patrol on the waterways and the creeks with a view to protecting further attack on the nation’s oil facilities.

He explained that athough the troops had been working round the clock in line with its mandate to secure the Niger Delta region, they had redoubled their efforts following the recent bombing of oil installations in a part of the region.

According to him, the Commander of Operation Pulo Shield, Maj.-Gen. Alani Okunlola, has directed sector commanders under him to ensure that those behind the recent attack on oil installations were brought to book

He said, “The Operation Pulo Shield is pursuing its mandate, one of which is securing the nation’s oil installations and fighting criminality with renewed vigour.

“It is not only manning or patrolling the waterways, we have dominated the entire creeks and the water channels of the Niger Delta and not only within the areas that the explosions occurred.

“You can see that all their (militants) boasting that they are going to continue with their bombings will not be possible again because the Operation Pulo Shield, in conjunction with other security agencies within the Niger Delta region, has intensified and heightened patrol.”

Isa pointed out that with the domination of the creeks, waterways and pipelines dominated by the troops, there would be no space for the militants to operate again.

“As I speak now, all the waterways, pipelines, creeks and channels have been dominated by men of the Operation Pulo Shield, in conjunction with other security agents,” he added.

SOURCE: PUNCH.