The Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Rear Admiral Suleman Apochi, on Sunday commended the gallantry of soldiers who recently repelled an attack by militants on the JTF’s troops in Ondo State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the JTF troops had killed a suspected militant leader in a shoot-out with militants in Ondo state, and one soldier was also killed during the incident that occurred on April 30.
Apochi told NAN in an interview in Yenagoa that the JTF under his command remained committed to protecting innocent citizens residing in the Niger Delta region.
He said it was regrettable that troops deployed on routine patrols to secure oil infrastructure were targeted in unprovoked attacks.
He explained that the soldiers were ambushed but they quickly recovered and repelled the attack, while the militants took to their heels when they realised that their leader was killed.
The commander said the hoodlums fled with gunshot wounds.
According to the Commander, the military has reopened the Ono-Lagos waterways and made it navigable after the militants’ group led by late Ossy Ibori had blocked the route for four months.
He noted that the relative peace and reduced incidents of attacks on oil facilities were a result of the tireless efforts of the Joint Military Force deployed to the region and called for the support and understanding of the people of the area.
“Our people need to understand the sacrifices of the military as patriotic citizens who have volunteered to protect them and give them the support they need in the line of duty, we are trained to defend people.
“In the ongoing operation to fish out those responsible for the attack, we are very careful not to harm innocent people and we shall make no mistake about it, but anyone who habours or protects criminals will lose that immunity.
“We shall go after anyone or community that shields the criminals,” Apohi warned.