The Nigerian military has declared a war on militants in the Niger Delta over their reported renewed bombing of oil and gas pipelines in the region.
Indeed, the military authorities have already deployed a team of soldiers, naval officers and other security operatives to the creeks of the Niger Delta to fish out those responsible for the bombing of the critical oil and gas pipelines in the region.
Residents of some of the affected areas confirm that “there are gunboats everywhere”.
The Commander of Operation Pulo Shield, Maj.-Gen. Alani Gafar Okunlola, said:
“We are going to fish out those responsible… for this sabotage of our critical national assets”. For the fourth day running, the militants, who regrouped in some oil-producing states, especially in Delta State, have launched persistent attacks on pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC).
Disturbed by the development, the Joint Task Force (JTF), codenamed Operation Pulo Shield, vowed to fish out the militants who blew up several oil and gas installations in the region on Friday night.
The militants bombed some oil installations both on Saturday and on Sunday with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Among the facilities blown up by the militants are the main crude line from Makaraba through Otunana and Abiteye to Escravos and the Olero to Escravos gas line.
The former was destroyed on Friday night while the latter was attacked in the early hours of Sunday.
Also yesterday, the militants blew up major crude oil and gas pipelines belonging to the Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) Tank Farm in Warri South West Local Government Area of the state.
The first attack occurred on Thursday when the militants reportedly bombed the Escravos-Warri-Abuja-Lagos pipelines. Some Itsekiri living in the affected area raised the alarm, warning that the situation, if not checked, could lead to another Ijaw-Itsekiri crisis.
The JTF warned that it would hold community leaders where oil and gas facilities are sabotaged responsible for such acts.
The Commander of Operation Pulo Shield, Maj.-Gen. Okunlola, led journalists yesterday to one of the sites where the suspected militants blew up the oil facilities at Egwa1, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State. He described the resurgence of militant activities in the region as unacceptable and promised to bring those behind the attacks to book.
He said: “The pipeline was blown up three days ago. We are going to fish out those responsible. It is a national sabotage of our critical asset. There is no way we can fold our arms and allow the perpetrators to get away with it.”
According to him, the attacks were not only criminal but capable of undermining national security. The commander called on both the state government and community leaders to assist security agencies flush out the criminals from the region.
Gen. Okunlola warned those behind it to desist from further attacks on oil and gas facilities or be ready to face the consequences.
The JTF boss was accompanied on the visit by Brig.-Gen. F. Yahaya, Commodore Raimi Mohammed (Commander, NNS Delta), Lt. Col. Igwe Patrick Omoke (Commander, 3 Battalion, Effurun).
Many villages in the creeks have been deserted by residents as there was no visible movement of persons in the busy Warri/Escravos route.
Some Ijaw community leaders in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area confirmed on Sunday that gunboats were everywhere in the area. They said a combined team of soldiers and navy personnel had moved into the creeks.
According to one of them, “movement has been restricted. The military personnel are going about to show their presence and scare the militants, who strike mostly at night.”
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