By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Soldiers attached to the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, yesterday said their search for militants and sea pirates had led to the killing of seven suspects in the Niger Delta in the last 48 hours.
The special military outfit headquartered in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, disclosed that the operation which led to the killings, arrests and recovery of weapons were carried out in Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa States.
Among the deceased suspects, were two suspected sea pirates who were shot dead around Sonykiri Creeks, near Olakpokpo Kula, while two others, according to the military escaped with gun wounds.
Five others who reportedly belonged to the Bakassi Strike Force, it was gathered, were felled in Southern Cross River after they hijacked a heavily filled boat containing bags of rice and the passengers therein.
The Deputy spokesman, Joint Media Campaign Centre of the JTF, Lt. Cdr. Thomas Otuji, stated in Yenagoa yesterday that the task force also arrested three other suspects who were currently undergoing interrogation.
Otuji said the arrest was made at Ikot Ene, Akpabuyo Local Government Area in Cross River while the troops also rescued a boat laden with rice.
According to him, the suspects were killed by troops from Sector 4 of the Operation Delta Safe in conjunction with some local vigilantes at Parrot Island, Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River.
“The militants had earlier seized the boat conveying large quantities of rice from a marketer and the passengers on board, asking the owner of the rice to pay N500,000 ransom.
“The troops placed a bait on the suspects during the rescue operation and later professionally engaged the militants in a gun duel, killing five of them and rescuing the passengers unhurt,” Osuji said.
He said the other pirates were killed by troops from Sector 3 of the Joint Task Force stationed at Idama Waterside in Rivers, noting that a life vest; one Ak-47 riffle; 2 AK-47 magazines and 40 pieces of 7.62 mm special ammunition were recovered by the troops.
He said the troops also recovered two cell phones and one speedboat mounted with 140 horsepower outboard engine from the suspected hoodlums.
Otuji added that the joint task force had intensified patrols of the creeks in the Niger Delta and urged the public to support the military by providing timely information.
The JTF spokesman stated that the banned 200 horsepower engine boat used by the suspected sea pirates was sunk immediately.
He disclosed that a massive illegal refinery camp, purportedly belonging to one Mr. George Amah, was discovered and destroyed in Adokiye Ama, Okirika, Rivers, while 33 pumping machines, generators, speedboats and a 33,000 litre capacity fuel tanker was intercepted.
The first day had two panel discussions on “Conflict Drivers and Opportunities for Stabilization in Northern Nigeria” and also Rehabilitation, Reconciliation and Reconstruction” of communities destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents in different parts of Northern Nigeria.
The Governors of Plateau, Zamfara, Adamawa and Borno States as well as Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd), alongside some officials of United States Government took part in the two panel discussions held at different times.