31 May 2016, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Joint Military Task Force, codenamed “Operations Pulo Shield”, in the wee hours of Monday invaded more Ijaw communities in search of vandals and militants responsible for the bombing of oil and gas facilities in Delta State.
The communities according to reports include Benikrukru, Kokodiagbene, Kurutie and Okerenkoko, all in Warri South West Council.
According to the JTF, the operations, named cordon and search, was aimed at unmasking the militants and vandals, who are perpetrating the heinous crimes, and also requesting the communities to produce them.
The communities, however, bemoaned that the army disguise in various manners to invade their communities, stressing that these tactics were worrisome, as criminal elements and political enemies of the communities could adopt the same operational modes to invade the communities and kidnap perceived enemies.
Residents of the communities said that their lives were no longer safe, as they were subjected to untold hardship, noting that lots of the communities residents especially student and elderly ones have not been accounted for since they ran into the bush for safety.
“Military continuous visits are posing serious threats to the communities. We are living in bondage. Gbaramatu kingdom is hosts to oil and gas facilities and not to Avengers’’, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Chairman of Kokodiagbene community said.
Reports indicate that the waterways have been blocked by the army as the people have been denied access to fishing and farming.
The communities leader also declared that the pipeline surveillance contracts were not awarded to the them noting that the military is charged with such responsibility, hence they should not be held accountable for vandalism.
The communities expected the military to man the pipeline routes to prevent further attacks rather than cozying up in well-furnished house boats.
“It is annoying to observe that within every 5 to 10-kilometer radius, there are security house-boats and gunboats, yet illegal bunkering and vandalism are going on unabated. Who are they fooling?’’Comrade Sheriff Mulade stated.
The communities, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Military High Command to withdraw the army from the communities and station them on the pipeline routes as this was their primary responsibility and not invasion of communities to harass and intimidate innocent citizens, and expose them to danger in the bush they have ran into.