President Buhari orders Armed Forces to crush criminals in Niger Delta

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buhariThere is anxiety in the Niger Delta that President Muhammadu Buhari may have concluded plans on the deployment of troops to launch an offensive against oil and gas pipeline vandals in the region.

The apprehension was further fuelled on Saturday after the Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin, Chief of Defence Staff, paid a visit to the Bayelsa State-based headquarters of the Joint Force in the Niger Delta, code-named Operation Pulo Shield.

Buhari had on April 13, 2016, during his one-week visit to China, declared that his administration would crush vandals and economic saboteurs who are blowing up oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta.

The President, who spoke in Beijing during a meeting with members of the Nigerian community in China, said that his administration would be as ruthless in dealing with the vandals in the same way that the nation’s armed forces were dealing with the Boko Haram terror group.

Olonishakin was accompanied on the visit by Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff, and received by Maj. Gen Alani Okunola, Commander of Operation Pulo Shield.

The two service chiefs were conducted round the security outfit’s headquarters by Okunola amid tight security.

Olonishakin described his visit to the headquarters of Operation Pulo Shield as an “operational visit.”

He disclosed that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces was prepared to tackle vandals in the region headlong, and his visit was sequel to the strategic directives of Buhari to deal with identified security threats in the Niger Delta.

According to Olonishakin, the visit was to enable him assess first-hand the challenges of the troops with a view to addressing them, to ensure operational effectiveness in dealing with the threats to national economic assets in the region.

“I am in Yenagoa on operational visit to Operation Pulo Shield as well as the Boat House vessel we have in Akassa (in Brass LGA of Bayelsa).

“In doing that, we have listened to all they have said concerning the challenges and we shall go back and address some of these challenges so that they can do their jobs much better than they have done in the past”, he said.

Olonishakin added that, following the President’s directives, over 10 security threats to the economic well-being of the nation had been identified in the Niger Delta: “The President and Commander-in-Chief had given a strategic direction and we must ensure that these directives are carried out to the letter.

“I have come in company of the Chief of Naval Staff to also address some of these issues.

“The issue here is that we have a lot of security threats in this area. They are about 10 to be precise, and we have identified all these areas from illegal oil bunkering to oil theft to pipeline vandalism to kidnapping to cultism and all the other oil and gas-related criminalities.

“We have looked into that and are ensuring that these issues are properly addressed and we have zero-tolerance to militancy and other oil and gas criminalities in the region,” he said.