Pipeline vandalism has taken a worrisome dimension in the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria in recent times, with the Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna refineries having to be shutdown lately due to the destruction of the pipes supplying fuel to them.

To this end, the federal government had deployed a Joint Task Force of the military, Navy and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to protect the pipelines and other infrastructures in the area. That has not deterred  the suspected militants said to be responsible for the vandalism from destroying the pipelines and building illegal refineries in the area.

Apparently ready to take up the battle with the militants, the JTF on Friday, 22nd of April said that it has resolved to crackdown on these vandals as economic saboteurs.The force, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield said that  “Anybody or any group masquerading as militants are criminals and will be resisted and crushed” in line with the mandate of the joint  Taskforce in the Niger Delta.

In a statement by its spokesman, Colonel Isa Ado, the JTF said that it would treat the recent threat by the militants to launch massive attacks on the oil facilities as purely economic sabotage.“Any group or persons by whatever guise will be treated like common criminals.” The force had carried out aggressive patrols and surveillances within the waterways and the creeks that led to the arrest of suspects, arms and ammunition, illegal oil bunkering vessels and barges.

The Federal Government granted amnesty to repentant agitators and the grant had automatically ended militancy and agitation in the region.The command called on community leaders in the region to advise their subjects, especially the youths on the dangers of engaging in any act capable of undermining the security and economy of the country.

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