Soldiers Comb Delta State For Pipeline Bombers | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Soldiers Comb Delta State For Pipeline Bombers

Posted: Jan 18, 2016 at 9:27 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The military has begun the deployment of troops in Delta State to apprehend those who attacked oil facilities in the state recently.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, told one of our correspondents on the telephone in Abuja on Sunday that the military had deployed enough troops to dominate the areaa and commence the search for those behind the attacks on the strategic assets of the nation.

Niger Delta militants had on Thursday attacked the Escravos–Warri–Abuja–Lagos pipelines.

The attack came shortly after the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the arrest of a Niger Delta ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, for his failure to appear in the court to answer 30 counts of alleged N34bn fraud.

A newspaper had on Sunday reported that the attacks were aimed at crippling the nation’s crude oil production.

After bombing the Escravos-Warri-Abuja-Lagos pipelines at about 10pm on Thursday, the militants blew up the Chevron Nigeria Limited’s Utunan–Makaraba crude oil pipeline at about 10.30pm on Friday and proceeded to bomb the Olero gas pipeline in the early hours of Saturday.

In the interview with The PUNCH, the Defence spokesman stated that the military was taking precautionary measures to prevent further attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta.

Abubakar said the military would inform the public as soon as those behind the dastardly act were apprehended.

He warned that the military would be decisive in dealing with any threat to security in the areas.

The Defence spokesman called on the citizens of the areas to cooperate with security operatives in the search for those behind the attacks on the oil facilities,

Abubakar added, “The military is doing something about it, I mean the destruction of oil facilities in that part of the Niger Delta.

“We have dominated all the areas and all that we could do to prevent unholy acts in the areas.

“The military has deployed properly in the areas and the search is ongoing. As soon as we make headway, the public will be informed.

“We are warning that any breach of security will be dealt with no matter who is involved. Destruction of strategic assets will no longer be tolerated.

“All those involved will be brought to book. We are dominating the areas to apprehend the hooligans.

“We want to appeal to the people of the areas to cooperate with the military to expose those behind the attacks.

“Those guys, who are doing these things, are human beings and should be known. So all good citizens should help in securing the strategic assets.

“The military in conjunction with other security agencies, are capable of handling any uprising. Law abiding citizens should carry out their civic responsibilities of assisting the security agencies with relevant information.”

Meanwhile, Tompolo has denied having any links with those behind the attacks on oil installations in Delta State.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies to focus the search for vandals on leaders of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa and Delta states in a letter to the President on Saturday and made available to journalists on Sunday.

He alleged that the APC governorship candidate in the last election in Bayelsa State and some young men from the Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC after the 2015 Presidential election, were engrossed in moves to link him to the criminal act.

He said the APC leaders in Bayelsa and Delta states were after him for refusing to join the ruling party.

Tompolo denied having any link whatsoever with the N13bn and N34bn fraud for which he was ordered to be arrested by the court last week.

He stated that the APC leader in Bayelsa approached him to accompany him on a visit to the President to make a case for him to be appointed Special Adviser on the Niger Delta, which he said he turned down.

Tompolo said, “I wish to inform you that it has come to my knowledge that the leader of your party and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa and a few young men from Warri South-West LGA of Delta State,who joined the party from the PDP after the 2015 presidential election, are hell bent on linking me to the renewed vandalism of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, whereas they are the ones carrying out the act to smear my name.

“The crux of this letter is to let you know them that they are dubious, mischievous, desperate, pretentious, manipulative and corrupt; therefore, they do not share the same vision and mission with you as well as do not believe in good governance. I will briefly tell you some of their antecedents in this letter.

“The leader of your party in Bayelsa State approached me shortly after my meeting with you in Abuja that I should accompany him to meet you and plead for him to be appointed as Special Adviser and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme committee, which I refused to do because of his antecedents.”

He added, “There is this particular one from the same Gbaramatu Kingdom with me that has sworn to kill me because I refused to manipulate the ascension to our traditional stool in his favour when he was not even qualified for it. And so, he looks for any opportunity to deal with me.”

The ex-militant leader denied any link with the N34bn and N13bn fraud, which the EFCC had charged him to court with.

One of our correspondents report that in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Delta State, sporadic shootings were said to have resumed on Sunday while residents of the creek towns fled the areas to avoid being caught in the cross fire.

While soldiers, whose number could not be counted moved en mass to the areas, where some militants were said to have attacked oil facilities in recent days, the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Alkale Usman, assured the residents of safety.

Usman said the police and the military were on top of the situation.

The Joint Media Campaign Centre Co-coordinator of the JTF, Col. Isa Ado, had told journalists in Warri, that the situation was becoming precarious, informing the heavy deployment of troops in Gbaramatu kingdom to forestall the breakdown of law and order.

It was learnt that hundreds of ex-militants had returned to the creeks in Warri in what was believed to be a build-up to more attacks on oil facilities and security operatives in the areas.

Residents of Gbarmatu kingdom, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said they had heard heavy shootings emanating from the creeks, though they could not identify who had been responsible for the shootings.

It was gathered that the militants attacked gas pipelines in the creeks of Gbaramutu and Ugborodo areas of Warri South-West and those in Egbema, Warri North Local Government areas in the early hours of Sunday, leading to more confusion in the Ijaw communities.

A source said, “Boats are not moving as they used to, the shootings are sporadic. The militants were dressed in war attire.”

The gas pipeline, which runs from Olero creek to Escravos, was said to have been destroyed in the latest attacks, while several crude lines in Makaraba, Otunana Cilton-Nana, Abiteye and Diabi flow stations had been bombed by the militants.

Reacting to the tension in the creeks, however, the Okpala-Uku of Umusadege, Utagba-Uno, Ndokwa West LGA of Delta State, Ogbu-Ewu Egbononwu Ojugbeli, raised the alarm over threat to peace in his domain, which, he added, had led to the postponement of the annual general meeting of the community.

The Okpala-Uku, who also wrote a Save-Our-Soul letter to the Delta State Police Command, said the cancellation of the AGM was unavoidable in the interest of peace in the community.

“There is a plot to cause trouble in the community during the annual general meeting and I cannot fold my hands and allow such to happen. Our governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, should use his good offices to intervene. All security agencies, especially, the police, should take note of this development.

“Crisis of any kind can only take us back. We have a new government in the state; we want a peaceful state, a peaceful community,” he said.

But the APC has urged Nigerians to disregard Tompolo’s claim that its leaders were responsible for the attacks on oil installations in the South-South.

The Rivers State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Chris Finebone, described Tompolo’s recent claim on the attacks as mere rambling.

He advised Tompolo to submit himself to court for trial on allegations against him (Tompolo) rather than trying to play the spokesman for the Federal Government.

Finebone recalled that apart from threatening war, the former Niger Delta militant had also denied being involved in the bombing of oil facilities.

He said, “Tompolo should first and foremost submit himself to the law. He should go and defend himself on the allegations against him. He started by threatening war.

“The next one he said was that he was not responsible for the bombing of pipelines and other oil installations and now, he is saying that APC leaders should be watched closely on the recent bombings.

“In all these, which choice is simpler for Tompolo? The choice is that he should go and defend himself in court; he has not done that. But he decides to be rambling around.

“No single individual should take Tompolo seriously until he goes to court to defend himself on the allegations against him.”