The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Abayomi Olonishakin, said on Monday that the military would engage the Niger Delta Avengers to stop attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta.
Olonishakin said this at the inauguration of 12 refurbished gun boats and 40-bed space accommodation for troops in Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
He said the military was currently assessing the situation in the Niger Delta with a view to engaging stakeholders to maintain law and order in the region.
According to him, engagement with militants will involve governors of various states and political leaders in the Niger Delta.
He said: “Government and military is using multi-faceted approach rather than force alone to ensure that resurgent attacks on oil and gas installations are stopped.
“We have told them (militants) to stop the destruction of oil and gas facilities and other critical national assets as it negatively affects the economy with impact on livelihood of the people.
“If they (militants) have grievances, they should take it up with government rather than their current approach, which is not in the best interest of the nation.
“If they continue to choose the path of bombing pipelines (after engagement moves), then we will go after them and deal with the situation appropriately.”
Olonishakin said efforts were on to provide more gun boats and other military hardware for troops to maintain 24 hours patrol of about 5,000 creeks and waterways in the region.
The military chief said the provision of military hardware would boost the capacity of Operation Pulo Shield to confront oil theft and illegal bunkering of petroleum products in the region.
“Repair of these gun boats will no doubt improve the capacity of the brigade to meet its responsibility in curtailing criminal acts in our inland waterways,” he added.
Olonishakin commended the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Commander of Army 2 Brigade Port Harcourt, Brigadier General Stevenson Olabanji, for the repair of the boats.
Also, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, said the Armed Forces were currently faced with logistics challenges in its operations in the Niger Delta.
Buratai said, however, that the challenges would not deter troops from continuing to fight the menace of sea piracy, militancy, oil theft and general insecurity in the region.
According to him, the 40-bed space accommodation will serve as an operating base for troops to patrol and respond to crises situations in the area.
Other Service Chiefs at the event included the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; and the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Enugu, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru.