The Nigerian Army said yesterday that it successfully prevented planned attacks by militants on oil pipelines in some parts of the Niger Delta. THIS DAY reports.
A statement by the army spokesman, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, said troops of 343 Artillery Regiment of 2 Brigade, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, in the early hours of yesterday, carried out a patrol within the general area of Gulobokri and Eweleso, around Brass in Bayelsa State.
Usman revealed that during the exercise, the patrol team had an encounter with some armed militants in two speedboats who intended to blow up Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s (NAOC) pipeline at Gulobokri.
He said that the suspected vandals opened fire on the patrol team and “the troops responded with overwhelming superior firepower and as a result, the suspected criminals sped off from the area with many of them sustaining gunshot wounds”.
He said that there was no casualty on the part of the patrol team, except an official of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) attached to the team who sustained gunshot wound.
He disclosed that the victim was evacuated and is in a stable condition.
Usman further disclosed that another patrol team of the same unit of 82 Division Nigerian Army, which was on patrol around Perigbene House Boat (HB), encountered three speedboats suspected to be conveying militants about to attack another critical infrastructure in the area.
He said the troops opened fire on them, killing most of them and injuring others.
“However, the casualty on the militants could not be ascertained as it was raining heavily and the raging storm prevented the troops from pursuing the escaping criminals,” he stated.
Usman said a mop-up operation was organised for the militants that escaped with gunshot wounds and injuries as they may be receiving treatment in neighbouring communities.
With this development, he said troops would continue to intensify patrol in the general area to avert further vandalism or attacks in the area.
In another incident, the commander of the 4 Brigade, Nigerian Army in Benin, Edo State, Brigadier General Farouk Yahaya, confirmed yesterday that 10 suspected members of the Niger Delta Avengers had been arrested.
He said the suspects were arrested because of their links to pipeline bombings and militancy in the Niger Delta region.
General Yahaya, while briefing journalists, said the suspects were arrested during a cordon-and-search exercise conducted in Oporozoa community and its environs in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Residents and various groups in the area had decried the invasion of the community since Saturday and raised the alarm over the alleged intimidation of innocent residents by troops of the Nigerian Army.
A resident, who identified himself as Raphael, said the suspects arrested were innocent people who could not run away fast enough.
He said the soldiers arrested them and labelled them members of the Niger Delta Avengers while other residents took refuge in the bush.
The Niger Delta Avengers is the group that has claimed responsibility for recent attacks on oil and gas pipelines and installations in the Niger Delta.
General Yahaya however said the suspects were arrested for their links to the Niger Delta Avengers, insisting that guns, ammunition and other dangerous items were recovered from them.
He said the operation was conducted professionally in line with the rules of engagement of the Nigerian Army.
The army also restated its commitment to tackling oil facilities’ vandalism in the Niger Delta region.