Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A coalition of peace advocacy groups from the nine States of the Niger Delta have faulted the protest against Joint Task Force, Operation DELTA SAFE (ODS) in Niger Delta region under the leadership of Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman.
According to the groups, the protest is sponsored by oil thieves and those bent on sabotaging the economy of Nigeria through illegal bunkering.
The coalition under the aegis of the Niger Delta Peace and Development, which promised to reveal the identities of the oil thieves sponsoring the protest noted that the protest is a misrepresentation of the existing peace, security and positive results recorded by the men of the ODS against those involved economic sabotage, oil bunkering and vandalisation of oil facilities.
Mr James Julius, Chairman of the peace advocacy groups, in a statement alleged that the protest is a simple case of sponsored fight by oil thieves against the successes of the ODS led by Suleiman and his gallant men in the region.
The group lauded the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta for restoring and sustaining peace and reducing criminality in the region.
Julius while noting that those backing the protest should be investigated commended the Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman-led JTF for policing the Niger Delta region effectively, resulting in the reduction of attacks on oil installations to the barest minimum.
The group appealed to Niger Delta people to resist the temptation of becoming a tool of blackmail and accessory to oil theft and support the peace moves of the Federal Government aimed at repositioning the region as the oil and gas hub of the nation, noting that insecurity scared investors.
The statement reads “The existing peace in the region was due to the efforts of the military as it brought the recent renewed agitation and attacks on oil infrastructure, under control.
“The present Commander of JTF, Rear-Admiral Suleiman has been achieving results and has proved to be a round peg in a round hole; his deployment at a time there was renewed restiveness was apt and strategic.
“The military high command got it right and Suleiman, being an operational officer who spends most of his time in the creeks, has brought his naval tactics to check militancy. For eight months, there has been no reported incident in the region. Under his watch the Operation DELTA SAFE has uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Arhavwarien , Ughelli area of Delta State and recovered assorted weapons which including 28 guns , cartridges and military equipment, following an intelligence report of an arms manufacturing gang in the area which was supplying deadly ammunition to cultists, pirates , militants, armed robbers , among other criminals .”