Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Nigerian military said thursday that it was commencing a fresh operation, codenamed Operation Octopus Grip, in the waterways and creeks of the Niger Delta.
Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Bello Al-Hassan, said the riverine and sea exercises would take place in Bayelsa and Delta States.
Al-hassan, who spoke in Yenagoa, said that the exercise was expected to last from October 30 to November 1.
However, there is always apprehension during such military operations , with residents of the coastal areas accusing the security forces of high-handedness.
The FOC assured the residents in the two states and reiterated that the command was tasked with the responsibility of security of the waterways by providing adequate security within the commandâ€™s area of responsibility.
He said the command in Jan. launched â€œOperation Rivers Sweep.â€™â€™
â€œSo far, the operation has recorded huge success in reducing crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other maritime crimes.
â€œBetween May and September this year, the command seized and destroyed about 870,000 MT of illegally refined crude oil.
â€œAlso, over 400 illegal refineries were destroyed, including 85 boats used by oil thieves,â€™â€™ he said.
The flag officer said the aim of the planned exercise was also to assess the operational readiness of CNC fleet and to test the practical skills of its personnel in tackling maritime threats.
He said the navy was providing an environment that would enable sustenance of economic activities, including oil and gas production, the safety of shipping and other activities at sea
Al-hassan said seven ships and 37 riverine boats would be involved in the operation of the high sea exercise which is expected to end on Wednesday.