Sylvester Idowu in Warri
What could have been another major tragedy in the Niger Delta was averted last Sunday by operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) code-named, Operation Delta Safe, with the foiling of another attempt by suspected militants to blast the Forcardos Export Line being operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The incident took place four days after the Nigerian Navy foiled a similar attempt by militants to bomb the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) and Pipeline Products Marketing Company, (PPMC) in Ekpan area in Uvwie Local Government area of Delta State.
Sources told THISDAY that the hoodlums had arrived a spot along the crude oil pipeline at about 9 a.m in the oil-rich Ogulagha community and were about planting an improvised explosive device (IED) when they suddenly sighted a fast military patrol boat approaching.
It was gathered that the militants, on sighting the military patrol gun boat, abandoned the ÏED and fled in their boats.
“They came in two speed boats and were about fixing the bomb on the Forcados trunkline when they saw an approaching military gun boat. They quickly dropped the bomb and fled in their boats.
“The security agents chased but couldn’t catch them. So when they returned to site, they discovered that they were militants and wanted to sabotage the line. They then recovered the bomb”, a security source disclosed.
Spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lieutenant commander Kingsley Osuji confirmed the incident saying it was the timely arrival of Operatives of Delta Safe that saved the situation.
It will be recalled that militants blasted the same trunkline in Ogulagha in June this year leading to the arrest of some community leaders by soldiers.
Meanwhile, Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, Commodore Joseph Dzunve has urged youth to shun criminal activities in the Niger Delta.
Commodore Dzunve gave the admonition during the command’s ongoing medical outreach tagged ‘’Rhapsody’’ in Ogbe-Ijoh, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta.
He assured the people of their safety and urged them to provide his command with useful information that will help it provide adequate security for them.
He said the medical outreach was to engender military and civil relationship, noting that the military is not all about enforcing the law but to also provide humanitarian service to the people.
The navy boss said that three communities have benefited from the laudable programme since he assumed office in July, 2016.
The medical outreach is an initiative of the Nigerian Navy to render free medical service to communities within its areas of operation.
“The medical raphsody is one of our programme to promote our relationship with host communities.
“It enlightens members of the public on medical challenges. “We are know that some people are not aware of their health challenges.
“It is a programme put in place by Navy, this is about the third community we are visiting and we shall visit other communities,” Commodore Dzunve said.
Responding, Chairman, Governing Council of Ogbe-Ijoh Community, Mr. Alex Akemotubo, commended the Navy for the free medical exercise.
“I thank the Nigerian Navy for fulfilling its promise of providing free medical service to our people in Ogbe-Ijoh,” he said.
Also, the community youth president, Mr Godwin Aken, said the programme was timely, noting that the people had been faced with health challenges due to communal crisis in the community.
“I am happy that the programme is extended to our community, thanks to the federal government and NNS Delta”, he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Etimadimene Francis, who was diagnosed of eye problem commended the medical team.
“As an indigene of this kingdom, I am glad to be a beneficiary and i encourage them to keep it up”, he said.
Gift Aken, another beneficiary gave thanks to God for partaking in the exercise.
Some of the medical services provided included: malaria test, eye test, blood sugar/glucose test, free drugs among others.
Those with critical cases were, however, referred to the Navy Hospital, Effurun for further examination.