Military raids ‘oil thieves, militants’ hideouts in Bayelsa

Troops of the Nigerian Army stationed in Bayelsa State have raided the camps of suspected oil thieves and militants at Igbomotoru and Azuzuama communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.

It was learnt the raid which was allegedly conducted by troops of 5th Battalion, 16 Brigade Nigerian Army over the weekend, also combed the crude oil pipeline routes along the Obama flowstation, Kolo creeks and Brass areas.

Senior military sources said the operation was targeted at containing the activities of some known militants involved in setting up illegal bunkering camps in Southern Ijaw communities.

Another source claimed that the operation was targeted at arresting a known militant leader over his alleged shady activities in the area.

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The source, who craved anonymity, said the suspected militant and his army of boys escaped through the creeks when he received information about the impending military raid.

It was further learnt that the shrine allegedly used to administer oaths on youths during recruitment into the illegal bunkering ring by the suspected militant leader was destroyed.

Many items including military camouflage, mobile phones and military boots were reportedly seized by the operatives.

However, some indigenes of the Igbomotoru community have cried out over alleged military occupation of their area.

They claimed the development had created panic resulting in some indigenes deserting the communities over fear of indiscriminate arrest by soldiers.

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An Indigene of Igbomotoru, who spoke in confidence, said on Sunday that the area was calm as the troops had retreated from the community as of Sunday morning.

“The situation is calm now. We are peace loving community and would not want soldiers to occupy our area,” the source stated.

Attempts to get the spokespersons for the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army and the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) to speak on the development were unsuccessful as they neither denied nor confirm the operation.

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