By Sylvester Idowu in Warri and Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Troops attached to the Joint Military Force, the outfit deployed to protect oil installations in the Niger Delta, said yesterday that they outwitted suspected militants who attempted to attack an Agip oilfield in Okpoma, Bayelsa State.
Also yesterday, Ijaw youths demanded the immediate release of their kinsmen apprehended by the military who are currently carrying out an operation to fish out militants, sea pirates and pipeline vandals in the Niger Delta region.
On the foiled attack on Agip’s oilfield in Okpoma, Bayelsa State, the Joint Military Force conducted several operations codenamed, Pulo Shield, which also led to the arrest of 19 suspected vandals in May and June 2016.
According to the JTF, headquartered in Yenagoa, while on patrol along Brass waterways of Bayelsa, the soldiers discovered that the suspected vandals had dug and planted dynamites beneath the pipeline location in a swamp.
The JTF disclosed that the suspects had planted the devices for detonation before the troops foiled the operation and recovered two dynamite detonators, a cable wire and a battery from the scene.
Similarly, the outfit disclosed that officers deployed in Pirigbene Community rescued one Mrs. Seigha Samson, a sister to a serving member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
Col. Isa Ado, Spokesman of the force, said in a statement in Yenagoa, yesterday, that troops had intensified patrols to forestall further destruction of oil facilities following renewed attacks in the region.
Ado said Mrs. Samson was rescued within the creeks after three weeks in captivity, adding that in another raid on Thursday, security operatives destroyed camps belonging to cultists in Ibaa community of Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“During the operation, five cultist camps were destroyed while 7 suspects were arrested. A locally made pistol was recovered from the suspects,” he said.
Also, Ado noted that soldiers in an operation in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa, along Ebelebiri and Agba communities, arrested six suspected pipeline vandals and oil thieves.
“Eight Cotonou boats loaded with illegally acquired crude oil were destroyed while the suspects were handed over to the prosecuting agency,” he said.
He added, “On same day, troops in continuation of its raid on suspected pipeline vandals’ camps carried out cordon and search operation in Oporoma Community of Delta.
“Ten suspected pipeline vandals were arrested during the operation, one pistol, 195 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, 14 handheld radio set, 30 detonating cords and several phones with SIM cards were recovered.
“Other items recovered include diving equipment, one personal computer, Ipad, mobile phones and other items.”
He said that the Maritime component of the Joint Force, the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta on May 26 and June 14, respectively, arrested three suspected coordinators of several pipeline bombings across the region.
The spokesman added that one of the arrested suspects confessed to being part of the group that bombed the Nigerian Petroleum Developing Company (NPDC) crude oil pipeline at Escravos, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.