By Ajogwu Jerry
The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig Gen John Agim has briefed members of the public concerning the activities of Operation 777 conducted by Operation Delta Safe (OPDS).
It will be recalled that OPDS was established on 24th June 2016 with the mandate to protect oil and gas infrastructure and deter militancy, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and other criminality within the joint Operation Area (JOA) that could impact negatively on the socio economic activities in the Niger Delta in particular and the country generally.
According to the briefing, the Task Force comprises of Land, Maritime, Air, Police, DSS, and NSCDC Components.
The Operation area covers Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Rivers as well as southern parts of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Ondo states. Operation Delta Safe recorded huge achievements that have resulted in increased oil and gas production.
He said Defence Headquarters launched operation 777 on the 8th of October 2018 and was activated by HQ OP Delta safe on 10th October 2018.
General Agim further disclosed that Operation 777 is 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 within the Joint Operation Area.
The statement reads in part:
“The entire operation principally involves robust patrols around the creeks, major highways and flash points within the JOA. In some instances, aerial surveillance of identified hotspots of criminalities was conducted.
“It is gratifying to observe that significant achievement has been recorded by OPDS since the launch of Operation 777. For instance, anti-illegal bunkering /anti illegal refining operation was carried out in Okaki community in Bayelsa State which had become notorious for crude oil theft and illegal bunkering/refining activities along AGIP pipeline with huge success. Apart from the destruction of the illegal site, one of the most wanted militant and a member of ‘’kill and Bury’’ gang by name Gift Apollo aka ‘Thousand’ was arrested.
“The group was responsible for the attack and death of own Soldiers deployed to Abua/oduma in August 2018. Also destroyed are other massive illegal refining camps at Yeye, Jones and Chanomi creeks, Benneth Island in Delta State, Alekiri, Bidare and Iyalama creeks in Rivers State.
“Furthermore, in a bid to eliminate militancy and reduce the spate of incessant attacks on shipping within the JOA, identified active militant camps at Okparakiri, Sanikiri, Ke community, Elem Okporama and Olukirion were destroyed. On a tip-off, suspected sea robbers/cultists from Kelekele community terrorizing Abonnema- Buguma waterways were arrested. Infact, 4 suspected sea robbers enroute to other hideout in Kelekele creek were intercepted and arrested. They have given useful information that will help to rid the general area of criminal activities.
“Our troops deployed at Asaba arrested 2 suspected drug peddlers by name Nduka Ozigbondu and Mofi Ndibuisi along cable point Roundabout with large quantity of Indian hemp and other substances suspected to be hard drugs. Subsequently, the suspects and recovered items were handed over to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for further action. Similarly, troops in conjunction with NDLEA personnel raided identified drug spots, in Alaka, Ajamogha and Ugbenbe general area. 16 suspects were arrested and substances suspected to be hard drugs (Cocaine and Marijuana) were found in their possession. The suspects and items were handed over to NDLEA officials for further action.
Unrelenting efforts of OPDS to rid the JOA of criminal elements yielded positive reults when 160 cultists led by Unyime Friday Ibanga also known as Englishman Overcomer from Island cultist group in Etim Ekpo LGA of Akwa Ibom State laid down their arms. Weapons recovered and put out of circulation would drastically reduce activities of criminals.
On 22 Nov 2018, troops acting on tip off intercepted and arrested 12 people operating a wooden boat carrying 1,706 bags of foreign rice suspected to be smuggled from Cameroon at Mbo River, Mbo LGA of Akwa Ibom State were handed over to Nigeria Customs Service Akwa Ibom State Command for further action.
In another development, troops deployed at Ibaka intercepted and arrested 2 wooden boats at Ebughu River in Mbo LGA with 4 and 5 crew each conveying 202 Fifty kilogram bags and 326 fifty kilogram bags of rice respectively suspected to be smuggled from Cameroon. Both the suspects and the rice were handed over to Nigeria Customs Service Comptroller General Strike Force in Akwa Ibom for further investigation and prosecution.
“During the period under review, 7 Nigerian Agip oil company maintenance workers kidnapped while carrying out an assessment of a blasted well head at Azuzuama LGA in Bayelsa were recovered and abductees released unharmed.
“In another development, 5 armed robbers who attacked Udy king filling station in Calabar South were neutralized and the stolen money and some weapons recovered.
“Since the launch of Operation 777, the Task Force has destroyed 436 illegal refineries. Also destroyed were 609 Cotonou boats, 1,507 surface tanks and 1,538 drums used for illegal bunkering.
“Furthermore, Operation DELTA SAFE arrested 266 persons for various crimes who have been handed over to appropriate government agencies for prosecution.
On the whole, during the period under review, the following recoveries were made:
a. 230 different types of arms
b. 240 assorted ammunitions.
c. 11 barges
d. 101 outboard engines
e. 78 other boats
f. 13 tanker trucks
g. 51 other vehicles
h. 135 pumping machines and
j. 34 generating sets,” .