The Acting Director, Defence Information, Defence Headquarters, Abuja, Brigadier General John Agim, on Thursday, said that over 140 disputes among host communities in the Joint Operation Area of the Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) have been amicably resolved without a recourse to the conventional legal system.
Brig. Gen. Agim made the disclosure at the Conference Room of the headquarters of the Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS), Igbogene, Yenagoa, during a media chat.
“In pursuant of its civil-military obligations, the operation has made efforts towards ensuring peace in the JOA.
“This is carried out with engagements of companies and communities in areas where friction exists.
“It is worthy to state that host communities in the JOA prefer OPDS’s arbitration through CIMIC to conventional legal system.
“This is due to the quick dispensation of issues. With these interventions, the Force has minimal cases of human right abuses occasioned by confrontations with troops by aggrieved communities,” he noted.
While reeling out the achievements of OPDS since its activation on June 24, 2016, following the termination of Operation PULO SHIELD, Agim said a total of 1, 846 persons involved in diverse acts of criminality had been arrested.
According to him, a large percentage of the suspects engaged in economic sabotage and other forms of criminality had been handed over to prosecuting agencies while efforts are still being made to target the arrest of high profile elements and criminal kingpins.
“Furthermore, a high profile militant called Ossy IBORI was neutralized at Ajakpa, Ese-Odo LGA of Ondo State.
“One Augustine GBANGBANRAN, who operated along the Sapele/Warri North axis of Delta State, died of gunshot wounds he sustained in an encounter with troops.
“Operations, which were initiated in 2017, eventually led to the neutralization of another notorious militant called Oyawerikumor PEREGBAKUMOR (a.k.a. Kariowei) in early 2018.
Kariowei, it will be recalled, had terrorized communities along the Bomadi/Burutu axis of Delta State, and staged high profile kidnappings including that of four British expatriates in 2017 in which one missionary died.
The army boss also reiterated that the OPDS has been engaged in a clearance operation in Ese Odo LGA of Ondo State, southern parts of Akwa-Ibom State, Cross River State and Abia State to dislocate militant camps where several militants have been neutralized and camps destroyed in the process.
Brig. Gen. Agim said in order to continually degrade the capacity of criminals involved in crude oil theft and its associated crimes, OPDS routinely seizes and impounds items used to facilitate such economic crimes.
He disclosed that between Jan 1, 2017 till date, the task force had seized and impounded 24 vessels, 191 barges, 234 outboard engines and 476 other types of passenger boats.
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He added that it has seized 105 tanker trucks, 228 other vehicles and 610 pumping machines as well as 76 power-generating sets and 5,842 other items being used in facilitating illegalities.
Agim further disclosed that OPDS, with the aide of swamp boogies a novel idea drafted into the scene, destroyed 1, 437 illegal refineries, 795 wooden cargo boats (Cotonou boats), 3,872 metal surface tanks and 1,019 plastic tanks as well as 13,129 drums and 13,343 plastic cans.
To boost tourism in its Joint Operation Area, Brig. Gen. Agim disclosed that Land Component of OPDS renovated the famous Oloibiri Oil Well 1, where crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity at Otuabagi in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
“The site was signposted and this has not only attracted tourists to the iconic oil well but enhanced greatly the profile of the site as the mother of all commercial oil wells in Nigeria,” he enthused.
OPDS was inaugurated June 24, 2016 as part of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin’s mandate “to protect oil and gas infrastructure and deter militancy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and other forms of criminality within the JOA that could impact negatively on economic activities in the Niger Delta.”
Its area of coverage is Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, as well as the southern parts of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo and Ondo states.
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