The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Restore Hope, has been restructured and is now known as Operation ‘Pulo Shield’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Pulo is an Ijaw name for “oil”, meaning that the task force is also codenamed ‘Operation Oil Shield.’
The JTF Spokesman, Lt. Col Timothy Antigha, disclosed this in a statement issued and made available to NAN in Yenagoa on Monday.
Antigha noted that the composition of the outfit had also been expanded to include other agencies.
Some of the expanded agencies in the new structure are the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Others are the Presidential Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Oil Producing Companies.
The operational scope of the task force which initially covers Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, has been extended to cover the nine oil producing states.
Antigha, who said that the states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers, however, said the restructuring would further strengthen the effort of the outfit in tackling head-long illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalisation and crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “You are all aware that a couple of years ago, the Federal Government reconstituted the Joint Task Force, which hitherto existed in Rivers and Delta only, and tasked it principally to defeat militancy which had threatened the nation’s economic survival. After three years, the JTF is happy to inform you that that phase of its operation in the Niger Delta, has reached its culmination, following the elimination of militancy and its threat to a very significant extent.“You are aware that, apart from cases of sundry crimes which are present in every society, the Niger Delta is now economically viable and stable, security wise.
“However, the problems of illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft still remain and loom ominously,” he said.
Antigha said this problem was responsible for the loss of Federal Government’s revenue to the tune of $15.8 billion.
According to him, to confront this problem, the Defence Headquarters has directed the JTF to now focus on pipeline vandalism and associated economic crimes.
The spokesman said that in the new phase, the mission of the JTF would include, but not limited to, elimination of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, illegal oil refining and illegal oil bunkering.
It would also cover the elimination of piracy and all forms of sea robbery within its area of responsibility, he added.
According to him, this is to create a conducive environment for the operation of the nation’s oil and gas industry.
The spokesman commended the media for supporting its operations of getting rid of criminal gangs, crude oil thieves and illegal oil bunkerers in the Niger Delta.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via thisdaylive.com. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com