Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh yesterday warned criminals, who engaged in illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and other oil-related thefts, to desist from the acts in their own interest.
He said this in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, during the inauguration of 30 gunboats procured by the Defence Headquarters for the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield.
Present at the unveiling were Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson; his Delta State counterpart, Emmanuel Uduaghan; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Ibrahim; and Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosun.
Others are former state Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; entertainment mogul, Ben Murray-Bruce; and Commander JTF, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, among others.
Badeh said the gunboats would boost the JTF in its war against illegal oil thefts and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region.The CDS insisted that the receipt of the gunboats had added impetus to the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies campaign against oil theft and pipeline vandalism in Nigeria.
He promised that the gunboats and indeed other resources allocated by the Federal Government of Nigeria would be judiciously deployed for over all economic benefits of the country.
Bade said, “Aside from curtailing oil theft, these boats would come in very handy during the forthcoming 2015 polls as the troops would use these boats to dominate the creeks as a warning to would be trouble makers.”
He added that the fight in the North-East against the Boko Haram insurgents was gaining momentum and achieving the desired results.
The Nigerian Navy, he said, had intensified its war against oil thefts, which had remarkably curtailed the high level of crude oil losses.
He said the contracts for the boats were given to Messers Epenal Group of Companies Nigeria Limited and Messrs. Roshannal Info Tech Limited, stressing that the jobs were successfully executed.
In his remarks, Uduaghan called on international community to cooperate with Nigerian government in tackling crude oil thefts.
Uduaghan noted that over 80 per cent of stolen crude oil were used by foreign refineries.
While decrying the high rate of sabotage in gas production in the country, Uduaghan appealed to traditional rulers, youths and community heads to partner with JTF in tackling the menace in the creeks.
On his part, Dickson lauded the leadership of the of the nation’s military for giving support to the JTF in the Niger Delta.
Dickson called on the military to provide more support in land areas to tackle criminalities in the region and make the region safe from criminals.
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