FROM MADU ONUORAH
IN the last one year, a total of 1,653 suspects were arrested and 3,778 illegal refineries destroyed in the in the ongoing anti-illegal bunkering patrols by the Joint Task Force (Operation PULO SHIELD) in the Niger Delta, according to Minister of State for Defence, Dr Olusola Obada.
In addition, 120 barges, 878 Cotonou boats, 161 tanker trucks, 178 illegal fuel dumps and 5,238 surface tanks were also destroyed by the Task Force within the same period.
Obada also said that the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) will collaborate¬† with the private sector under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the production of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).
Obada said on Friday, while featuring in the ongoing ministerial press briefing in Abuja, that¬†the nation‚Äôs military has ‚Äúenhanced protection of oil and gas facilities through air and ground patrols of pipeline networks to deter vandals from sabotage activities. Troops were deployed on most critical platforms on a¬†24/7¬†basis to enhance their security. While criminalities in the industry have not been completely eliminated, efforts of the Joint Task Force have reduced the level crude oil theft drastically.‚Äù
She stated that towards industrialising Nigeria through the military-industrial complex, ‚Äúthe Federal Government in 2012 set up a high powered committee headed by the Vice President to reposition the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) for greater efficiency. The report of the committee had been submitted to the President and it is expected that the recommendations would help initiate a transformation in the local production of military equipment.‚Äù
Already, Obada noted, DICON has entered into partnership with foreign companies for the manufacture of weapons, bulletproof vests and other equipment.
She also disclosed that under the Ministry of Defence‚Äôs health initiatives, 25,000 people had been place on retroviral therapy in the last one year¬†under the Ministry of Defence HIV programme.
Obada said, ‚Äúin the area of health care, the Ministry of Defence HIV Programme Emergency Plan Implementation Committee (EPIC) in partnership with the United States Department of Defence HIV Programme has offered HIV counseling and test services to many Nigerians.¬†And placed over 25,000 on Anti-Retroviral Therapy.¬†In the last year, 15 new sites were established providing services. The emergency plan implementation committee has established its first reference laboratory, which will be accorded international grade by the college of pathology. Can I just mention here that most of those to whom we have given anti retroviral therapy are civilians and not just people in the Armed Forces.‚Äù