Militants involved in economic sabotage in the Niger Delta area are beginning to flee the creeks as troops of the 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, comb their hideouts, making arrests and busting oil smuggling facilities.
A statement signed by Army spokesman, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman said the field training exercise code-named Operation Crocodile Smile, have made “tremendous progress as they raised suspected criminal hideouts in the creeks”.
He said areas raided include Ajaosolo, Okogho, Opumani, and Obodo general area.
A statement he issued to the effect reads:
“Troops of 4 Brigade Nigerian Army involved in the field training exercise nicknamed “CROCODILE SMILE” mounted on gunboats and speedboats have been making tremendous progress as they also raided suspected criminal hideouts in the creeks around Ajaosolo, Okogho, Opumani, and Obodo general area.
“While conducting the exercise, on Sunday 28th August 2016, they intercepted suspected illegal oil bunkerer with 1 “Cotonou Boat” laden with crude oil, 3 X 40 Horse power Yamaha Speedboats and 5 X 200 Litres of illegally refined diesel oil.
“Similarly, the troops continued conducting the training exercise near Bomadi town, Bomadi Local Government Area and Pendo and Tuomu of Bururtu Local Government Area of Delta State respectively. Two suspects; Mr. Tokolo Sawyer and Miss Showman Ebi-ere were arrested at “Loveth Plaze”, while Mr Kingsley Ebidimo and 7 others with unidentified mission were equally arrested at Pendo as they were found to be in possession of substance believed to be Marijuana, 1 Axe, 2 Cutting Saw and a long iron bender in their hideouts. The suspects and exhibits have been handed over to the Nigeria Police at Bomadi.
“The troops have continued with their field training exercise, more so as they received 2 more supporting weapons, Main Battle Tank, 2 Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and 3 Scorpion Tanks from the Headquarters of Nigerian Armour Corps.
“In addition, as part of the training exercise, the troops have been carrying out patrols along waterways in the creeks, in that process, they recovered 2 “Cotonou Boats” and a 75 Horse Power Speedboat, 30 X 200 Litres plastic drums containing liquid suspected to be illegally refined crude oil in the creeks at Ovwahwa in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State in the afternoon of Sunday 28th August 2016.
“Three suspected persons, Messrs College Owahwa, Joseph Katte and Olisa Patrick found around the vicinity have been arrested. They are currently being questioned.
“Following intelligence reports, 2 illegal crude oil refineries were identified and destroyed by the exercising troops traversing Ayakoromo and Esaba water ways in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
“At about 5.00pm same day, 2 Pumping Machines and sets of new pipes used for the construction of illegal refineries and siphoning were found in the bush. Two suspects were interrogated to ascertain their involvement on the recovered items. The troops have continued their training exercise without hitch.
“In addition to the training exercise, troops are equally carrying out free medical outreaches at central area Sapele and near Olu of Warri’s in Warri”.