Peace advocacy groups fault anti-JTF protest, say oil thieves are fighting back

A coalition of peace advocacy groups from the nine states of the Niger Delta have, on Tuesday, faulted the protest against the performance of the Security Task Force in the region code named Operation Delta Safe led by Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, saying the protest is sponsored by oil thieves.

The coalition of peace advocacy groups under the aegis of the Niger Delta Peace and Development,  said though the identities of the oil thieves involved in the Abuja protest will soon be made public,  the protest is a misrepresentation of the existing peace, security and  positive results recorded by the men of the operation Delta Safe against those involved in economic sabotage, oil bunkering, vandalisation of oil facilities.

Comrade James Julius, (Rivers state, who is the chairman of the peace advocacy groups, in a statement issued via email, alleged that the protest is a simple case of sponsored fight by oil thieves against the successes of the Joint military Task force against  the commander,Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, and his gallant men in the region.

The group lauded the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta for restoring and sustaining peace and reducing criminality in the region.

Julius, who said the leaders of the Abuja protesters against the commander and men of the JTF should be investigated and their origin investigated, said: “The existing peace in the region was due to the efforts of the military, adding that the activities of JTF brought the recent renewed agitation and attacks on oil infrastructure, under control.”

He said that the Rear Admiral Apochi Suleman-led JTF, had policed the Niger Delta region effectively, resulting in the reduction of attacks on oil installations to the barest minimum.

“The present Commander of JTF, Rear-Admiral Suleman has been achieving results and has proved to be a round peg in a round hole; his deployment at a time there was renewed restiveness was apt and strategic.

“The military high command got it right and Suleiman, being an operational officer who spends most of his time in the creeks, has brought his naval tactics to check militancy.For eight months, there has been no reported incident in the region,” he stated.

The Peace Advocacy group appealed to Niger Delta people to resist the temptation of becoming a tool of blackmail and accessory to oil theft and support the peace moves of the Federal Government aimed at repositioning the region as the oil and gas hub of the nation, noting that insecurity scared investors.

According to the group, there is need to launder the image of the Niger Delta region and change the perception of international investors that fled the region as a result of militancy. At the moment, investors are coming back in droves. ”

“Under his watch the Operation Delta Safe has uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Arhavwarien , Ughelli area of Delta State and recovered assorted weapons which including 28 guns , cartridges and military equipment, following an intelligence report of an arms manufacturing gang in the area  which was supplying deadly ammunition to cultists, pirates , militants, armed robbers , among other criminals .”

“We have to know that the future of the region is under the present administration, which has demonstrated the will to develop the Niger Delta.Our people who engage in armed struggle must see that we cannot achieve anything by violence; we need to lure investor who once operated here, that the investment climate is right for them to return.”

“Available data showed that since enhanced military operations begun in the region in 2016, troops of the Operation  Delta Safe, have recovered 1,389 heavy arms and 20,352 ammunitions”

“Additionally, the Force has seized 105 tanker trucks, 228 other vehicles and 610 pumping machines as well as 76 Generator sets and 5,842 other items used in facilitating illegalities. Suffice to state that part of the Force efforts to deny criminals any freedom of action involves the destruction of their safe havens and the items used in perpetrating illegalities.

“The Force has in this process destroyed 1,437 illegal refineries, 795 wooden cargo boats, 3,872 metal surface thanks and 1,019 plastic tanks, 13,129 drums and 13,343 Jerry cans.”

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