Tough time awaits Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militants in the Niger Delta region following take-off of a new military outfit, Operation Delta Safe (ODS) in the region at the weekend.

A naval commander, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, took over the operations of the ODS as pioneer commander at the outfit’s headquarters in Igbogene, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Prior to his new assignment, Okojie was the Flag Officer, Commanding, Naval Training Command, Apapa Lagos.

Okojie took over from the Commander of the defunct Joint Military Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield (OPS), Major-General Alani Okunlola, who was moved to the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.

The Defence Headquarters recently scrapped the OPS as part of the federal government’s efforts to safeguard oil facilities and ensure improved security in the region.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen.Rabe Abubakar,said that the OPS was replaced with ODS to deal with the new threats arising from the region.

Yesterday, the OPS flag was lowered and the ODS flag hoisted signaling the resumption of a new operation under a new outfit.

In his remarks, Okunlola said during his stint as the OPS commander, the defunct OPS recorded a number of achievements.

“We came, we saw, we conquered. Nigeria expects everybody to do their duties and I have done mine in the Niger Delta,” Okunlola said.

He said the challenges in the region were numerous, pointing to the Niger Delta terrain and threat to security in the region.

He said: “The terrain of the region itself is a challenge. It is a very difficult challenge and of course you know all the threats to security in the environment which we have been contending with.

“And of course, you know logistics can never be enough but the federal government has done enough to support us and with the support we had, we were able to achieve the milestones we achieved.

“One of the biggest achievements is that we arrested a number of vessels, big vessels that were involved in illegal bunkering, we busted some kidnap cases.

“We destroyed numerous illegal refining spots. We were able to an extent curtail illegal oil bunkering and illegal oil refineries.”

He urged Nigerians to pray for the repose of the souls of soldiers who died in various operations in the region.

Okunlola described Okojie as a very seasoned military officer saying he was once his boss.

He said: “Okojie is my boss because I have worked with him before.

“I know the stuff he is made of and I know that with somebody like him at the helm, the operation will move forward.”

Okojie said his leadership would plug into where Okunlola stopped to ensure seamless operations in the Niger Delta.

He vowed that in line with the mandate of the Operation Delta Safe, he and his colleagues would rout criminalities in the region.

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