Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh yesterday warned oil thieves to desist from the act or be ready to face deadly gun battle.
Badeh gave the warning on Friday while inaugurating the permanent headquarters of the Joint Task Military Force, Operation Pulo Shield, along Igbogene/Okolobiri road in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
He regretted that oil theft, kidnapping and other criminal activities were still on the increase in the region despite the previous agreement reached with former militants to down tools.
He said, “Criminalities in the Niger Delta, we thought, have stopped but now they are on the rise again. But I know that our gallant men and women are equal to the task.
“We are after the bad men, we are good men and darkness can never overtake light. No nation can develop in the presence of so much criminality.
“Now we are hearing that people are taking up arms here and there; kidnapping is on the rise, oil theft is on the rise, going by the last seizure of a ship loaded with 15,000 metric tons of illegal properties.”
The CDS, who appealed to youths of the region to operate within the ambit of the law, revealed that JTF had received added capabilities to combat all manner of criminalities in the region.
He commended the JTF commander, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, for his foresight, saying the permanent complex would save the JTF from spending humongous amount of money on rented apartment and enhance effectiveness.
He thanked the government of Bayelsa State for being hospitable as host.
In his remarks, deputy governor of Bayelsa State, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd) extolled the effort of the JTF in building a permanent complex with military designs and concepts.
In his welcome remarks, Atewe recalled that the JTF was a product of the defunct Operation Restore Hope, which was earlier established to check criminal activities in the region with headquarters in Warri, Delta State.
He said since his assumption as commander of the Operation Pulo Shield some months ago, the JTF had recorded a lot of achievements in the fight against oil theft.
Atewe highlighted the destruction of over 1,000 illegal oil refineries, arrest and trial or several suspects, destruction of over 400 smuggling boats, and 20 trucks containing illegally refined products, among others.
The event also witnessed the unveiling and launch of a maiden edition of the Pulo Shield Magazine, a publication of the outfit.

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