JTF kills two Avengers, arrests three militants

The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, has killed two members of the Niger Delta Avengers and arrested three others over the killing of four soldiers in Bayelsa State.

Niger Delta Avengers

Gunmen, suspected to be militants, had on August 8, 2016 attacked and killed four soldiers stationed at a military checkpoint at the entrance of Nembe community, in Nembe Local Government Area of the state.

The gunmen, who were dressed in mourning outfit as if they were on a funeral procession, ambushed the detachment of the ODS, killed the soldiers and carted away their arms, ammunition and military gunboat.

The arrested suspects were on Tuesday paraded at the headquarters of the ODS at Igbogene, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa.

The Commander of the outfit, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, said on Monday that the troops recovered a large cache of arms and ammunition, adding that a military gunboat seized from the soldiers was also recovered.

Okojie said that the search for the suspected killers led them to a hideout in a camp at Saraba Creek, near Okiama community, Okigbene in Southern Ijaw Local Government, where the soldiers located the militants and engaged them in a gun duel, leading to the death of two suspects and the arrest of three others.

According to him, among the items recovered from the suspected hoodlums include nine AK 47 rifles, an FN rifle, four HK 21 MGs, one G3 MG, three GPMGs, 20 AK 47 magazines, two G3 magazines, one FN magazine, one container of gunpowder, the gunboat seized from the murdered soldiers and military accoutrements.

Also seized during the raid, he said, were 1,145 rounds of 7.62mm metal link, 2, 485 rounds of 7.62mm ball cartons, 370 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and 1,356 rounds of 7.62mm NATO.

Austin Dikro, one of the suspects paraded by the ODS Commander, said the group had gone for another operation and were returning when they had the bloody encounter with the troops.

He said the waterways in the route they initially wanted to take had dried up as they were returning, making it difficult for their speedboat to float.

He said it was then that their now deceased leader ordered them to go through the military checkpoint and engage the soldiers head-on.

Dikro, who said he hailed from Brass LGA of Bayelsa State, noted that they disguised as mourners just before approaching the military blockade and opened fire on the troops.

It was learnt that the hoodlums also forced one of the surviving soldiers to operate the military gunboat that was seized from the troops, because it was too complex for their own men.

Okojie said, “The sources of acquiring illicit wealth is being degraded, hence the resort to attacking our locations. You will recall that on Monday, August 8, 2016, at about 0930hours, a group suspected to be members of the Niger Delta Avengers, disguised as mourners, attacked and  killed four of our soldiers at their duty post in Nembe.

“Three suspects were arrested and a large quantity of arms, ammunition and the gunboat that was taken from Nembe on August 8,2016 were recovered.”

He added that the troops conducted the operation professionally and avoided collateral damage, noting that the security forces would continue to sustain the approach which was in line with global best practices.

He stressed, “Let me use this opportunity to reiterate the fact that no criminal would go free, wherever they are. Be rest assured we will get them and ensure they face justice. Let me reaffirm the commitment of the JTF, Operation Delta Safe, of its resolve to ensure peace and economic stability in the region.”