Nigerian Military and ‘Octopus Grip’ of Bayelsa
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
Bayelsa is one of the States in Nigeria’s South South geo-political zone. It is also rich in oil.
And like its sisters, namely Rivers, Akwa Ibom and the rest oil-producing States, it has not known peace, for quite some time now.
All sorts of disasters, natural and man-made, together with socio-political unrests, have been the State’s companion at various times.
Aside the recurring oil spill that has ravaged some parts of the Niger Delta State, especially riverine communities, the activities of oil thieves and vandals, is also rife.
And when it seemed like Bayelsa will continue to enjoy a relative peace, 13 years after militant groups surrendered their arms, deserted Niger Delta creeks and embraced the famous Amnesty Programme of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, oil vandals, armed to-the-teeth, are baring their fangs.
They have somewhat declared a ‘total war’ on the State, in recent times. The fraudulent oil merchants, perhaps, have found a haven in Bayelsa, where they not only vandalize oil companies’ facilities, but steal crude from pipelines, with reckless abandon.
Activities of crude oil vandals, aside the vicious threats they pose to the well-being of Bayelsa and Bayelsans, are harming the nation’s economy, which solely relies on the ‘black gold’.
But while the Nigerian military, under the leadership of General Leo Irabor may have its plate full containing terrorists bandits, and other notorious criminals holding the country to ransom, it has yet offered to come to the aid of the Bayelsa State government.
Committed to tackling oil vandals and their nefarious activities, Irabor, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, has inaugurated a Joint Task Force (JTF) out of Operation Delta Safe, code named Operation Octopus Grip, in Bayelsa.
This is part of efforts to tackle illegal activities of vandals in the State and across the entire Niger Delta region.
The inauguration held in Nembe Bassambiri NDDC jetty, in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
In his welcome address, Irabor, said the operations were aimed at curtailing numerous security threats currently bedeviling Nigeria and encumbering her national security.
Irabor, who was represented by Maj.-Gen. M.A Yekini, Chief of Defence Training and Operation, said “I came up with a vision which is to foster professional armed forces capable of effectively meeting constitutional imperatives.
“So far, the DHQ is currently conducting several operations aimed at addressing identified security threats across the various geo-political zones of Nigeria.
“These operations are Operation WHIRL STROKE in the North Central, HADARIN DAJI in the North West, SAFE HAVEN in the North Central, AWATSE in the South West, HADIN KAI in the North East and DELTA SAFE in the South South.
“Operation Delta Safe is peculiar and was established in the Niger Delta to curb crude oil theft and other illegal activities in the region.
“Accordingly, the JTF Operation Delta Safe was mandated to protect oil and gas infrastructures, deter and prevent militancy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and other forms of criminality within the joint operations area that could impact negatively on the region’s economic activities.
“In achieving its mandate, JTF Operation Delta Safe had conducted several kinetic and non-kinetic operations which had yielded positive results in checkmating crude oil theft and illegal oil refineries in the Niger Delta.
“Operations conducted by the JTF Operation Delta Safe include Operations ACCORD I and ACCORD II, among others.
“This had contributed in no small measure to secure our oil and gas infrastructures towards maintaining a steady oil production from the region.
“These operations have also yielded positive results in curtailing the activities of pipeline vandals, kidnapping, sea piracy, communal violence and other criminal activities in the region.
“Notwithstanding the numerous achievements, there was need to build on successes achieved so far and persevere in the face of emerging security threats, through the conduct of fresh operations such as Operation Octopus Grip,” he said.
Irabor described Octopus Grip as a necessity to curtail the renewed activities of crude oil theft and illegal refineries affecting Nigeria’s oil production output.
In his remarks, Rear Adm. Aminu Hassan, the Commander JTF, Operation Delta Safe, said that the operation was aimed at creating safe and a secured environment for NNPC oil and gas exploration activities within the OPDS.
He described the objective of the operation as reinforcing and sustaining the successes recorded during Operation Accord two, as well as all other operations conducted by services and other security agencies to improve their operational efforts.
The JTF Commander said that they had recorded a successful conduct of Accord 1 and 2 with tremendous achievements, which could be attributed to the OPDS anti-crude oil theft efforts along with commitment of the IOCs as well as all other stakeholders.
He said that Operation Delta Safe remained resolute in ensuring a better level of protection for the pipelines.
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