By Johnson Eyiangho
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, on Thursday formally launched into operation, the newly-established 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt.
The division was set up on Dec. 7, 2016, as part of the measures adopted by the Army to address the security challenges in the Niger Delta.
The division covers the four coastal states in the region – Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom.
Dan-Ali said: “the division was established out of the desire of the present administration to protect lives and property in the region.’’
He enumerated the security challenges in the area as cultism, illegal oil bunkering, political violence, as well as the activities of militants.
He said other threats that informed the division’s establishment was the activities of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), communal clashes and conflict between oil giants and communities.
“All these heighten the state of insecurity in the region, and negatively affect gas and oil production, as well as other economic activities,’’ he said.
According to Dan-Ali, President Buhari had approved the establishment of the division in order to prevent further destruction of lives and property, as well as to improve the security situation in the region.
He thanked the governors of the four states for their support, and urged other stakeholders in the area to support government efforts at combating all forms of criminality in the region.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the facility was one of the ways the army could immediately respond to security issues in the Niger Delta.
He thanked the governors for their support and assured that the army would not relent in providing security in the area.
Gov. Nyesom Wike donated 20 operational vehicles to the division and promised that he was ready to give the army and other security agencies all the necessary support to stamp out kidnapping and cultism in the state.
Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom presented to the army chief the Certificate of Occupancy of the land for the construction of the permanent site of the newly-established 2 Brigade in the state.
The governor had earlier donated the land to the army.
Also, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, represented by his Deputy, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, said that the State Government would soon complete the process of allocating land to the army to build a brigade.
The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, retired Rear Admiral John Jonah, who represented Gov. Serriake Dickson, thanked the army for the relative peace being enjoyed in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the army had in 2016 set up the 6 division in Rivers, as well as established the 16 Brigade in Bayelsa, 2 Brigade in Akwa Ibom, while plans are underway to set up a brigade in Delta.
All these are measures adopted to address security challenges in the region which produces the oil and gas from which government derives the bulk of its revenue.