JTF has compromised, we seek review of its operations in Niger Delta Region, says Council

Mr Pereotubo Oweilaemi(3rd from right) the factional leader of the Ijaw Youth Council, who led the news briefing

By Nathaniel Obrute
 The Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities Youth Leaders Council (NDENYLC) has appealed to the Federal Government to review the current Joint Task Force (JTF) operations in the region.

 The group stated this in a communique issued on Saturday at the end of its Second Quarterly Meeting held  in Warri.

The group leaders who expressed displeasure over the rising wave of illegal bunkering and other criminal activities in the coastal region said reviewing the JTF operations would help to strengthen it to serve original purpose.

They alleged that the current JTF Code name 'Operation Delta Safe' had compromised by way of aiding illegal bunkering activities.

"The various ethnic nationalities youth leaders of Niger Delta region worried over the activities of the JTF Code name " Operation Delta Safe" in recent times have encouraged unabated illegal oil bunkering in the region.

"The JTF set up in 2003 to fight against illegal oil in recent times has encouraged unabated illegal oil bunkering in the region.

" It has compromise its mandate of protecting oil installations, discouraged bunkering and militancy under the watch of the Commander, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi.

" Presently, the Coastal fringes at Bonny and Bille in Rivers are being identified as bunkering hot spot.

"Also, Nembe in Bayelsa and other coastal communities across the region are being flooded with bunkering activities.

" Based on that, we call on the government to review the current structure of the JTF operation in the region with a view to strengthening it to serve its original purpose," the group said.

They also demanded that the security of oil facilities be carried out in partnership with the host communities to save cost.

"There should be an immediate change of button  if government must win the battle against crude oil theft," they said.

Mr Pereotubo Oweilaemi, the factional leader of the Ijaw Youth Council read the communique to journalists in the presence of the youth leaders.

Fielding questions from newsmen, Oweilaemi said their action had no link with the June 1 protest by some aggrieved Niger Delta youth in Abuja.

The communique was signed by 20 youth leaders including Oweilaemi across the Niger Delta among whom were: Mr Mathew Dighi, President, Ogoni Youth Council, Mr Eric Oluwole, President, Yoruba Youth Council.

Others were: Mr Edeki Ahanmisi, President, Owan Youth Council, Mr Okodugha Aluyah, President, Edo Youth Leaders Council, Mr Terry Obieh, President, Urhobo Youth Council, Mr Stephen Okoko, President, Ibibio Youth Council among others.

Effort to speak with the spokesman of the JTF command, Major Ibrahim Abdullahi for comment was unsuccessful neither did he responded to the text message put across to him.

But Apochi had earlier refuted the allegation levelled against him through a cell phone that JTF was involved in aiding illegal oil bunkering and challenged those accusing him to show proof.