- Dispatches soldiers to Bakassi creeks
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja and Sylvester Idowu in Warri Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The troops of 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army have arrested one Mr. Gabriel Ogbudje (an Ex-militant leader), an alleged leader of the Otugas Fire Force, a militant group threatening to attack Utorogu Gas Plant in the Niger Delta region.
THISDAY checks revealed that the wife led soldiers to the suspect’s country home at Akperhe Community, Ughelli South local government where his septuagenarian mother, Madam Amrevweatefa Odada, was arrested along with two other youngmen found in the family compound.
It was gathered that the detention of the suspect’s relation helped the troops to locate the suspect along with an accomplice identified as Elvis Dweller Ejus.
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, in a statement wednesday, alleged that Ogbudje was responsible for the recent act of economic sabotage perpetrated on NPDC/Shoreline major delivery trunk line within Ogo-Oteri general area on the August 26.
Usman said the suspected militant who was trailed, was arrested by troops along Agbor-Abraka road in Delta State on September 6, 2016.
He noted that the suspect had been on the run since he was declared wanted because of his public declaration as the leader of the militant group ‘Otugas Fire Force’.
According to him, it was the suspect who made the declaration of the threat code named ‘Crocodile Tears’, while the Brigade was engaged in the military field training exercise nicknamed ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’.
The army spokesman said Ogbudje was arrested along with his accomplice, Mr. Elvis Dweller Ejus, and were handed to Operation Delta Safe for further interrogation and subsequent handing over to the relevant security agency for prosecutions.
“Please recall also that troops of 13 Brigade of the Nigerian army in conjunction with Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Air Force and covert operatives of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) arrested a suspected kingpin of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), Isaac Romeo, who goes by the appellation ‘G2’ in their terrorists camp.
“He was arrested along with two other persons, Mr. Lawson Samson and an elderly man, Mr. Iyang Ekpo, in Calabar, Cross River State, while driving in a vehicle with the registration number, CRS 86 AO1, on September 3, 2016. The arrest followed painstaking efforts and tracking of the militant who was in the state to perpetrate further criminal activities of sabotaging critical infrastructures. All the suspects are currently being interrogated,” he stated.
In a related development, Usman stated that the Boko Haram suspect who is number 105 on the wanted list, Muhammed Bulama, was last Tuesday arrested by troops in Yobe State. The DAPR said Bulama was arrested along side with two other suspected Boko Haram terrorists-Ardo Abba Muhammed (elder brother to Bulama as claimed) and Muhammadu Kaigama-in Azare community, Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State, with the help of the local vigilantes in the town.
He revealed that the terrorists were arrested riding on a horseback and bicycle while shepherding some sheep towards market.
During preliminary investigation, Usman said the suspected terrorist personally confirmed his photograph on the wanted list and further revealed that he specialised on rearing animals for the terrorist group.
“He further confessed that they came to the village to sell the animals as they had run out of cash in their hideout and would also get some food items back to for the upcoming Salah festivity,” he stated.
However, Akperhe community in Ughelli, Delta State, was agog last Tuesday following the unconditional release of four of the community indigenes arrested by soldiers in connection with the suspects.
Those released at about 1.45p.m. from custody of the Military Police at the 3 Battalion, Effurun Barracks of the Nigerian Army, included Vincent Ekeke, Henry Koko and the wife of the suspect, Rachael.
Madam Amrevweatefa Odada, the mother of Gabriel was first released last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army yesterday dispatched its men and officers to the Bakassi and Akpabuyo creeks and swamps with a stern warning to Niger Delta militants operating in the state that the Nigerian military is coming after them.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, gave the warning at the Amphibious Training School (ATS) of the Nigerian Army in Calabar, where he launched the military operation code-named “Exercise Crocodile Smile” in Cross River State.
Buratai, who stated this while speaking to journalists shortly after launching the exercise said the military would definitely flush the militants, whom he described as “terrorists” out from Bakassi and any other part of the state.
“You can see the troops that just left here, they are on their way to all parts of Cross River State especially the Bakassi area where there are suspected terrorists operating there,” Buratai said.
Earlier, the COAS, while addressing the men and officers of the ATS said the exercise was launched in order to equip personnel of the army with competent amphibious skills that would help them curb militancy, pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
Buratai said the Nigerian Army must continue to make progress in its determination to rid the Niger Delta and the South-south of the activities of militants, especially in the riverine areas.
He said even when the military exercise ends, the army would continue to be on ground, and in the creeks with a view to keeping criminals away from the state.
“We must keep our country safe at all times. Even after the exercise, we must continue to maintain our presence at sea and in all the troubled areas and hot spots.
“I know the role the amphibious personnel are playing. Amphibious operations are very difficult operations; it requires special training and re-training to fit in.
“On this regard, the ATS would give all the necessary support that is required for the personnel to perform very well. “We are making efforts to also fix all the broken down platforms and indeed acquire more to enhance our operational capabilities in the riverine environment.
“We are also going to enhance our training in this regards. I must commend all the soldiers for their support in keeping our nation safe,” Buratai said.
He said the military exercise which was launched recently in the Niger Delta has been successful.
The COAS urged the host communities to maintain cordial relationship with the military by supporting them with necessary information needed to record success in the operation.
“I call on the good people of host communities where our troops are deployed to have very good relations in terms of supporting us with necessary information so that we will be able to chart those hoodlums and criminals
“We also have the various security agencies, whom we are working very closely with; it’s more or less a combined efforts toward national security,” Buratai said.
Buratai also inaugurated the ATS Boat Hanger, constructed for the operations of men and officer of the amphibious soldiers, and inspected other facilities that are under construction that would be inaugurated later.
Commandant of ATS, Brig. Gen. Temitope Ademola, said that the ATS was established in 1984 and mandated to train and prepare soldiers for amphibious warfare.
Ademola said the ATS needs more operational equipment that would enhance its amphibious activities. He appealed to the COAS to approve the supply of more equipment to the ATS to enhance its activities.
At the Government House, Calabar where Buratai paid a courtesy call to the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade, he said the exercise was very necessary in view of the security challenges in the Niger Delta.
Buratai said the amphibious warfare was a peculiar area that requires constant training and retraining.
The COAS described the cooperation of security agencies in the state as tremendous, and called on the state government for continuous support.
Ayade who was represented by his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu, said the state government appreciates the conduct of the military exercise in the state.
He said the state government would support the military in their moves to rid the state of criminals who are masquerading as militants.