Brigadier-General John Agim, acting Director of Defence Information, has said since the launch of ‘Operation 777’, an initiative of the Joint Military Task Force, in the Niger Delta, 266 persons have been arrested for various offences.
He stated this while speaking with journalists on Thursday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
According to Agim, suspects arrested included militant kingpin, Gift Apollo a.k.a. ‘Thousand’ whose gang is said to be responsible for the attack on soldiers deployed to Abua/Oduma creeks in Bayelsa State.
He disclosed that the operation had helped in destroying about 436 illegal refineries, 609 boats, 1,507 surface tanks and 1,538 drums used for illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
His words: “Operation 777 has recorded several significant achievements by men and officers of Operation Delta Safe, anti-illegal bunkering, illegal refiniing operation carried out in Okaka community in Bayelsa State which had become notorious for crude oil theft and illegal bunkering/refining activities, and one of the most wanted militants and a member of ‘kill and bury’ gang by name Gift Apollo a.k.a. ‘Thousand’ was arrested. The group was responsible for the attack and death of soldiers deployed to Abua/Oduma.
“Furthermore, in a bid to eliminate militancy and reduce the spate of incessant attacks on shipping within Joint Operation Areas (JOA) and identified active militant camps at Okparakiri, Sanikiri and Okporama communities on a tip-off, suspected sea robbers/cultists terrorising Abonnema-Buguma waterways were arrested.
“Seven Nigerian Agip Oil Company maintenance workers kidnapped while carrying out an assessment of a blasted well head in Azuama in Southern Ijaw local Government in Bayelsa were recovered and released unharmed. Operation Delta Safe have arrested 266 persons for various crimes and handed over to appropriate government agencies for prosecution. Several dangerous items such as 230 different types of arms, 240 assorted ammunitions, 11 barges, 101 outboard engines, 135 pumping machines were recovered from the criminals.”
In his remarks, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, Commander of Operation Delta Safe, said with the operation of the JTF in Niger Delta region, the level of vandalism in oil infrastructures had dropped significantly.
“Our efforts have increased the crude production from 900 barrels per day to 2.2 million barrel of crude oil and we shall continue on our mandates of operation to weed off criminal elements in the area of operation,” he said.