The Joint Military Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta region, said it has arrested 19 suspected militants, among are those who attempted to bomb Agip’s oilfield in the oil rich region of the country.
The JTF disclosed on Friday that the arrests were made during operations in May and June this year.
Col. Isa Ado, Spokesman of the Force, said in a statement that troops have since upped their patrols in the creeks to forestall further bombing of oil facilities following renewed attacks in the region.
According to Isa, troops while on patrol on June 9 along Brass water ways of Bayelsa foiled an attempt by suspected pipeline vandals to destroy Agip’s oil pipeline at Okpoma Community.
He said that the suspected vandals had dug and planted dynamites beneath the pipeline location in a swamp for detonation before the troops foiled the sabotage operation. The Joint Force recovered two dynamite detonators, cable wire and battery.
Ado said that on May 28, troops of the force deployed in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa along Ebelebiri and Agba communities also arrested six suspected pipeline vandals and oil thieves.
He also stated that eight Cotonou boats loaded with illegally acquired crude oil were destroyed while the suspects were handed over to the prosecuting agency.
“On same day, troops in continuation of its raid on suspected pipeline vandals’ camps carried out cordon and search operation in Oporoma Community of Delta.
“Ten suspected pipeline vandals were arrested during the operation, one pistol, 195 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, 14 handheld radio set, 30 detonating cords and several phones with SIM cards were recovered.
“Other items recovered include diving equipment, one personal computer, Ipad, mobile phones and other items,” he stated.
Ado further disclosed that in a similar development, the Maritime Component of the Joint Force, the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta on May 26 and June 14, respectively, arrested three suspected coordinators of several pipeline bombings across the region.
The spokesman added that one of the arrested suspects reportedly confessed to being part of the group that bombed the Nigerian Petroleum Developing Company (NPDC) crude oil pipeline at Escravos, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Ado said that several bomb related items were recovered from the vandals who bombed the Escravos facility.
He assured that the joint military force will not be deterred by the activities of criminals and remains highly committed in carrying out its mandate professionally within the Niger Delta region.
According to him, efforts are underway to round up fleeing criminals including pipeline vandals and to dismantle all militant camps in the region.
“Those behind this heinous act of bombing of critical installations in the region are warned to have a rethink and tow the line of peace by adopting a legitimate means to address their grievances instead of taking the law into their hands. “We must embrace and support the laudable and bold initiative by the government to dialogue for peace and development, and call on the communities to guide their youths against acts capable of sabotaging the economy of the nation,” Ado stated.