…Arrest 7, recover explosives, arms,Ammunition
From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
NO fewer than seven suspected militants were yesterday arrested in Oporoza community in Warri South West Council Area of Delta State, when military personnel stormed various hideouts of former militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo,
in the area, during which they recovered a large cache of explosives, arms and ammunition.
Sunday Sun learnt that men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo Shield stormed the community about 2:30am and made the arrests.
An earlier operation carried out last Friday led to the arrest of one of the suspects believed to be the brain behind a series of attacks on oil and gas facilities in the creeks of Delta state. The suspect was reportedly handed over to the Navy, which in turn immediately dispatched him to Abuja for interrogation.
Militants under the name of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have in recent times intensified attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Delta creeks, significantly reducing the nation’s crude export and gas production, also shutting
down Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) swamp operations effectively.
A dependable source confirmed yesterday’s early morning operation in Oporoza, which devastated several buildings just as inhabitants of the area ran to neighbouring communities for safety.
While some Ijaw sources claimed that the operation was an attack on Oporoza community, which they described
as brutalisation and abuse of residents, including women and children, military and other sources said it was an ongoing operation targeted at specific points.
A community source, who did not want to be named said it was an operation on ‘Tompolo’s location’ adding that
he learnt arrests were made, but was not sure if the ex-militant leader, who was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged fraud involving transaction between entities controlled by him and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, was one of those arrested.
“There was an attack on Tompolo’s location and arrests were made. Not specifically oporoza, but where Tompolo is suspected to be hiding. Whether he was part of those arrested is what we don’t know,” he said.
Although, all efforts to get official military confirmation were unsuccessful, a very reliable military source in Delta confirmed that seven suspects were arrested in the early-hour-operation, adding that recovery of explosives, arms and ammunition were also made.
The source, who said that the operation was ongoing and would still last a while, also revealed that an earlier arrest had been made last Friday, adding that the suspect, whose identity he declined to reveal, was immediately moved to Abuja.
“The operation is ongoing, seven suspects have already been arrested including the explosives they use in destroying pipelines. Arms and ammunition were recovered.
I won’t say the exact point where operations are happening for now, but we are around the villages to recover all the explosives, equipment used in blowing pipelines and, if possible, arrest all the culprits. “Now we are everywhere and we are out for them.
Yesterday we were able to get one, although he was handed over to the Navy and they flew him to Abuja immediately,” the source said. Meanwhile, efforts to get officials response could not yield results as at the time of filing this report just as the Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Delta, Commodore Raimi Mohammed, said he was not aware of the operation and the spokesman of the JTF, Colonel Isa Ado, refused to pick calls or respond to text messages sent to him. The Sun