Niyi Odebode, Fidelis Soriwei, Adelani Adepegba
and Chukwudi Akasike
A clash is likely between the Nigerian military and
Niger Delta militants who have returned to their old
ways of bombing oil facilities following the
deployment of soldiers to oil pipelines nationwide.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered on Saturday that the
operation to take over the pipelines from the
militants and vandals was being jointly undertaken
by the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, as well
as other security agencies.
It was learnt that the military would deploy all
equipment at its disposal, including aircraft, drones
and some special pipeline monitoring facilities to
protect oil installations nationwide.
Bombings of oil pipelines resumed in the Niger
Delta, particularly Delta State, following a court in
order that a militant leader in the area, Government
Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, be arrested for failing to
appear in court over a N34bn fraud allegation.
Tompolo had, in a letter to President Muhammadu
Buhari last week, denied the allegation, urging
security agencies to focus their search for pipeline
vandals on the leaders of the All Progressives
Congress in Bayelsa and Delta states.
Before the bombing of oil installations in the Niger
Delta, vandals had been destroying pipelines at
Arepo, Ogun State and some parts of Lagos State.
Buhari, while speaking at Abu Dhabi in the United
Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, had vowed to deal with
the resurgence of oil theft, vandalism of pipelines
and insecurity in the Niger Delta.
Although the security source, who spoke to
SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity, did not
disclose the number of military personnel that were
being deployed nationwide, he said the security
agents had already taken over the protection of oil
The Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen.
Rabe Abubakar, in an interview with one of our
correspondents, confirmed that the military had
taken over protection of oil pipelines nationwide.
He said, “They have taken over protection all over
Nigeria. It is just modalities that need to be
concluded but with this kind of thing, I believe we
have enough deployment to oversee all the
pipelines in the nation and we will continue to do
“One person or some groups — criminal groups —
cannot hold this nation to ransom. Nobody can hold
this nation to ransom and will be living, no!
“All security agencies are in top gear to ensure
that these people, whoever is involved, will be
brought to book and whoever thinks that we cannot
do it should try to continue doing it and let’s see
who will pay the price at the end of the day.”
When asked the type of equipment that would be
used by the military, he said the military would
deploy high-tech modern security networks to
protect the pipelines from attacks by vandals and
Abubakar restated the determination of the military
and other security agencies to track down those
behind the last attack on the pipelines in Warri
South West Local Government Area of Delta State,
The Defence spokesman had said the government
launched Operation AWATSE to ensure the
protection of the pipelines.
Investigations revealed that troops of the task
force had been deployed to various communities in
the Niger Delta in search of suspected vandals.
Confirming the deployment, the Joint Task Force in
the Niger Delta, also known as Operation Pulo
Shield, said on Saturday that its troops had taken
over the waterways, creeks and pipelines in the
The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre of
Operation Pulo Shield, Col. Ado Isa, disclosed this
while speaking with SUNDAY PUNCH in a
Isa said the troops had intensified patrol on the
waterways and the creeks with a view to
protecting further attack on the nation’s oil
He explained that athough the troops had been
working round the clock in line with its mandate to
secure the Niger Delta region, they had redoubled
their efforts following the recent bombing of oil
installations in a part of the region.
According to him, the Commander of Operation
Pulo Shield, Maj.-Gen. Alani Okunlola, has directed
sector commanders under him to ensure that
those behind the recent attack on oil installations
were brought to book
He said, “The Operation Pulo Shield is pursuing its
mandate, one of which is securing the nation’s oil
installations and fighting criminality with renewed
“It is not only manning or patrolling the waterways,
we have dominated the entire creeks and the
water channels of the Niger Delta and not only
within the areas that the explosions occurred.
“You can see that all their (militants) boasting that
they are going to continue with their bombings will
not be possible again because the Operation Pulo
Shield, in conjunction with other security agencies
within the Niger Delta region, has intensified and
Isa pointed out that with the domination of the
creeks, waterways and pipelines dominated by the
troops, there would be no space for the militants to
“As I speak now, all the waterways, pipelines,
creeks and channels have been dominated by men
of the Operation Pulo Shield, in conjunction with
other security agents,” he added.