Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Defence Headquarters has absolved the Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) Rear Admiral Apochi Ogabu Suleiman of allegations of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
A coalition of Niger Delta agitators had recently petitioned the Defence Headquarters calling for the sack of Suleiman alleging that he was involved in illegal oil bunkering.
However the acting Director of Defence Information, Brig- Gen John Agim in a press conference disclosed that a committee set up by Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin discovered that the allegations were false and were targeted to smear the operations of the OPDS because of its fight against criminality.
He said “Let me use this medium to report that, sometime in August this year, Defence Headquarters received petition against the Force Commander, OPDS Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman of some wrong doing.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General AG Olonisakin constituted a committee to investigate the veracity of the allegations. I am proud to announce that, the panel findings shows that the allegation was false, infact, it was criminality fighting back.
The findings also show that, the Standing Operation Procedure established by the Commander and his team has been responsible for the successes recorded by OPDS and now Operation 777”.
Agim who noted that OPDS special operation code named Operation 777 covering Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Rivers as well as southern parts of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Ondo states aimed at curbing crude oil theft, illegal refining of Petroleum Products, illegal oil bunkering, Communal clashes, kidnapping, piracy, cultism as well as to eliminate militancy have been a huge success.
He disclosed that the entire operation which principally involves robust patrols around the creeks, major highways and flash points within has led to the recovery of 470 different types of arms and assorted ammunitions, 11 barge, 101 outboard engines and 78 other boats. Others are 13 tanker trucks, 51 other vehicles 135 pumping machines and 34 generating sets.
Agim also disclosed that the leadership of the OPDS has explored alternative dispute mechanism which has yielded positive fruits in the resolution of crisis between communities.
“ Also in pursuant of its civil-military obligations, OPDS has made efforts to ensure that there is peace in the JOA. This is carried out with engagement of companies and communities in areas where there are disturbances. Within the period of Operation 777, over 40 issues have been resolved amicably.
It is worthy of note that, the host communities in the JOA continue to prefer OPDS arbitration through CIMIC to conventional legal system. With this level of trust and confidence, the Force has minimal cases of human rights abuses occasioned by confrontations with troops by aggrieved communities”.