The following rising cases of oil theft in the Niger Delta region, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, has warned oil thieves to desist from the act or be ready to face deadly gun battle.
Badeh gave the warning on Friday while inaugurating the permanent complex of the Joint Task Military Force’s Operation Pulo Shield headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Badeh lamented that oil theft, kidnapping and other criminal activities were still on the increase in the region despite the previous agreement reached with former militants to down tools.
He said, “Criminalities in the Niger Delta, we thought, have stopped but now they are on the rise again. But I know that our gallant men and women are equal to the task.
“We are after the bad men; we are good men and darkness can never overtake light. No nation can develop in the presence of so much criminality.
“Now we are hearing that people are taking up arms here and there; kidnapping is on the rise, oil theft is on the rise, going by the last seizure of a ship loaded with 15,000 metric tons of illegal properties.
“The military was here before and we reached a simple agreement to down tools to work together for the benefit of our nation. We want to tell the criminals that they should not allow us to turn our guns back to the Niger Delta. Please, do not let the Armed Force turn its arsenal on the Niger Delta.”
Badeh said the military had received major arms for the Navy, stressing that naval operatives were stationed in the blue waters.
The CDS, who appealed to youths in the region to operate within the ambits of the law, said the JTF had received added capabilities to combat all manner of criminalities in the region.
In his remarks, the JTF Commander, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, stated that the JTF was a product of the defunct Operation Restore Hope, which was earlier established to check criminal activities in the region with headquarters in Warri, Delta State.
He said since his assumption as Commander of the Operation Pulo Shield some months ago, the JTF had recorded a lot of achievements in the fight against oil theft.
Atewe highlighted the destruction of over 1,000 illegal oil refineries, arrest and trial of several suspects, destruction of over 400 smuggling boats, and 20 trucks containing illegally refined products, among others.