The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, Thursday continued its raids on suspected hideouts of ex-militants, who killed 12 policemen in Azuzama community in Bayelsa State as it announced the capture and destruction of seven camps belonging to the pirates and robbers operating along the rivers and creeks in the region.
And in a related development, a former secretary-general of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Udengs Eradiri, has asked the federal government to stop the¬† JTF from its continued raid of Bayelsa communities over the mere suspicion of shielding the suspected killers of the 12 policemen by gunmen.
Eradiri opined that instead of the unnecessary and tension-evoking raids, the JTF should work closely with ex-militant leaders who, according to¬† him know the perpetrators of the dastardly act and could easily be mobilised to bring the boys to book immediately.
He said the JTF should not compound the woes of the people in the communities who were already leaving in abject poverty.
But the JTF through its Media Centre Coordinator, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, insisted that the security operation launched in Azuzuama community was a success and had led to the destruction of seven militant hide outs used by kidnappers and sea robbers in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
“Following findings from series of thorough surveillance and investigations carried out by our operatives on recent criminal activities of kidnappers and sea robbers in the waterways and creeks along the Delta – Bayelsa axis of the Niger Delta the JTF uncovered a number of hideouts that had served as hibernation to these criminals. These criminals have over time harassed and intimidated not only the inhabitants of these communities but also those engaged in commercial activities in the water ways.
“The nefarious activities of these criminals have therefore to a large extent detrimentally impacted on the socio-economic activities of the people in the affected areas and the generality of users of the waterways. Consequently, we commenced a joint operation to rid the water ways and creeks of all criminal hideouts to restore normalcy.
“The operation, code named ‚ÄúOperation Clean up the Waterways,‚Äù commenced at about 11.pm last Tuesday in Azuzuama which had served as a safe haven for notorious kidnappers and sea robbers and had been used as a platform for launching attacks on innocent victims. Identified criminal hideouts used for keeping kidnapped victims in Lobia 1, Lobia 2 and Okugbe in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area were also scuttled during the operation.”
“Maritime platforms, comprising three Fibre boats and two sophisticated sea-going boats used by the criminals from their hideouts were scuttled. Items including one AK 47 riffle magazine loaded with 34 live rounds of 7.62mm, a yard of army camouflage and sewn uniforms, one cartridge belt, wraps of marijuana, two Thuraya phones, radio intercom communication set and 109 Honduran Lempira (foreign currency notes) were recovered from the hideouts.”