The Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe (ODS) Thursday said it had so far recovered 1,389 different types of arms and 20, 352 items of munitions from militants and other hostile elements in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking at the JTF’s Headquarters, Igbogene, Yenagoa, Bayelsa, the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.Gen. John Agim and Deputy Commander of the outfit, Brig.Gen. Kelvin Aligbe said the weapons were recovered at the ongoing mop up of arms in the region.
Agim said the arms mop-up was initiated to restore law and order in the Niger Delta adding that troops also destroyed 1,437 illegal refineries and 795 wooden cargo boats used by oil thieves.
He said in separate operations, the troops destroyed 3,872 metal surface tanks, 1,019 plastic tanks, 13,129 drums and 13,343 jerry cans containing illegally refined petroleum products.
He said: “It is instructive to add that the introduction of the use of swamp buggy in the JTF’s anti-illegal refining operations has significantly degraded the capacity of illegal refinery operators to revamp destroyed illegal refineries.
“However, individuals are discouraged from indulging in illegal refining and bunkering of crude products as this has huge implication in undermining and destroying the ecosystem”.
Agim noted that since the activation of the outfit in 2017 a total of 1,846 suspects were arrested for various criminal activities.
“A large percentage of these suspects have been transferred to prosecuting agencies. The force has also made efforts to target the arrest of high-profile elements and criminal kingpins, thus reducing the freedom of action they erstwhile exploited”, he said.
He said the outfit seized and impounded 24 vessels, 191 barges, 234 outboard engines and 476 other types of passenger boats used to facilitate economic crimes in the region.
He said the efforts of the outfit reduced the incessant destruction and sabotage of oil facilities, which resulted in drastic drop in crude oil production.
Apart from reducing oil production output from 2.2m barrel per day to 900,000, he recalled that attacks on gas pipelines affected power generation capacity of the country.
“It is gratifying to note that as at date, the production levels are averaging about 2.5m barrel per day. Indeed, the NNPC management recently affirmed that pipeline vandalism had dropped significantly.
“These tangible successes have further spurred the task force to improve upon this standard to drastically reduce breaches on oil infrastructure. The force has made efforts to clear the area of identified militant camps whose activities have threatened national security”, he said.
According to him recently troops of the outfit successfully conducted a covert operation with Special Forces to neutralise the activities of the Bakassi Strike Force (BSF).
Giving further insight, he said: “A high profile militant leader of the Bakassi Strike Force alias G1 had continued to pose transnational threat in Cameroun and other coastal territory of Bakassi, Ikang and environs in Nigeria.
“Concertedly, our troops dislodged the militant group’s camp at a creek along Efut Esighi in Cross River state where several arms and ammunition were recovered and some militants neutralized”.