Military operatives under the command of ‘Operation DELTA SAFE’ (OPDS), have intensified their ongoing campaign against illegal refineries along the Delta creeks with the deployment of additional specially-designed amphibious swamp buggies to enhance unhindered access to the remote areas.
Leading the OPDS team, which comprises of the Nigerian Navy, Army, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as the Custom Service personnel in a 3-day destruction exercise to the creek at the weekend, its Commander, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, described the operation as a reaffirmation of the military’s determination to rid the area of criminal activities.
In its operation at the notorious Bennett Island in Warri South Local Government Area, the team destroyed over 20 metallic tanks and dozens of plastic storage tanks as well as pipes and other equipment used in perpetrating the illicit oil business.
Also, in another operation at Yeye community creek in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta state, led by the Executive Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Delta, Navy Captain Adeyemi Festus Adewuyi, the team destroyed a massive makeshift cooking pot, drums, pumping machines, connecting pipes and hoses, as well as generating sets used by the syndicate that specialise in crude oil theft.
Speaking with newsmen after the exercise at Bennett Island, Commodore Suleiman disclosed that the Swamp Buggy operation was part of the latest strategy adopted by the military high command in its quest to ensure maximum efficiency in its enforcement of the destruction exercise in the various locations used by criminals to perpetrate illegal oil operations across the Niger Delta.
He explained that the amphibious swamp buggies were specifically designed as purpose-built or modified motor vehicles used to move around difficult terrain or waterlogged swamps.
The Commander said that the buggies are deployed to make it impossible for the illicit oil operators to continue in their business after the destruction exercise.
While admonishing residents of the various communities where such criminality is being perpetrated to join hands with the military to rid their areas of such crimes by divulge information, the Naval boss said the operation would be a continuous exercise as the Navy command would no longer condone criminal activity.
According to him, “Instead of just burning the illegal refinery camps, we should also destroy their equipment and anything that will make it easy for them to come back.”
“There are two advantages of what we are doing with the swamp buggy. After we have destroyed their tanks and others, it will be very difficult for them to start the business all over again as we are not only crushing their equipment, we are also going to be monitoring their activities with our drones.”
While urging the perpetrators to seek for a better and meaningful livelihood rather than engaging in illegal activities, the Commander lamented the colossal damage the illicit act has caused to the environment, adding that it would take a long time for the soil in the affected areas to recover.
Rear Admiral Suleiman reaffirmed the commitment of the OPDS to go after the sponsors of the illegal activities through intelligence networking, noting that the people being arrested are mere foot soldiers and field workers
“If we had gotten the sponsors of these illegal activities, we will not be doing what we are doing here today,” he said.
At Yeye Community in Burutu Local Government Area, Navy Captain, Adeyemi Festus Adewuyi, who led the operation, urged indigenes and community leaders of the various communities to feel free to divulge information to the appropriate security operatives close to them.
He noted that besides helping the security agencies in combating a crime tantamount to economic sabotage, their prompt response in reporting such activities in their communities would go a long way in reducing the environmental pollution and ecological degradation.
The exercise, which continues all through the week, had in attendance Major Ahmed Abdulkadri and other high officials of the Nigerian Army 3rd Battalion in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State.