The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a Lieutenant General, says contrary to notion in some quarters, illegal bunkering, refinery and oil theft in the Niger Delta had reduced.
Fielding questions from journalists in Uyo, on Tuesday, Mr. Buratai said with the establishment of new army formations in the region, illegal activities were being checkmated.
The army chief was on tour of army formations in Akwa Ibom, including the newly established 2 Brigade in Uyo.
“Strictly speaking, there is no rise (in illegal bunkering and oil theft) because of the efforts of all the stakeholders, the military and other security agencies, working hard to make sure that the sabotage is checked.
“That is why you see so many arrests, so many moves to stop the illegal bunkering. It is a new drive, new effort put by all the security agencies.
“You know that we have a new 6 Division (of the Nigerian Army) that has been established.
‘’By that establishment, we have more areas which hitherto have not been touched.
‘’We have an experienced General Officer Commanding–GOC of the division, who has gone virtually to those areas that hitherto have been isolated,’’ he said.
According to Mr. Buratai, there is heightened activity to stop oil theft and other illegal activities in the region.
At the headquarters of the 2 brigade and 6 Battalion at Wellington Barracks, Ibagwa in Abak Local Government Area of the state, he called on officers and men to be loyal, patriotic and diligent in their duties.
He said there be a lot of activities and intervention in the state, with the establishment of the brigade.
Mr. Buratai, who has visited army formations in Cross River and inaugurated some projects is also to visit formations in Bayelsa on Tuesday, including the newly established 16 Brigade in Yenagoa.
Earlier when he paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Udom Emmanuel, he said the 2 Brigade was relocated from Port Harcourt to Akwa Ibom for strategic reason.
“The decision to relocate 2 Brigade from Port Harcourt to Uyo is a strategic reason. The strategic location of Akwa Ibom to the overall security architecture of the country is quite fundamental’’.
He commended the governor for his support to enable the brigade take off properly.
Responding to another question, Mr. Buratai described the ambush attack against troops in the North-East as isolated incident that was expected in a war situation.
“We have been in war, so you cannot avoid such incidents. Mind you, these guys – terrorists are on the run but we will continue to pursue them.
“They have been boxed sort of because most of their supplies have been blocked.
“So, they are trying as much as possible to find weak links to be able to get some supplies in terms of ammunition and weapons and then food stuff.
“The situation is not out of control, we may continue to have these isolated attacks but by and large, we are pursuing them and the final phase of this operation is not far.’’