The Nigerian Navy, Central Naval Command has launched “Operation Octopus Grip” phase two with eleven gunboats in Delta State.
The Navy appealed to coastal communities to cooperate with it to rid the Niger Delta of crime.
The Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Abubakar Bello Alhasan said the launching of the operation was in continuation of the first phase earlier launched in October 30th, 2017.
Alhasan also led an operation to destroy illegal refineries in Bennett Island, Warri South-West Local Government Area.
He said the first phase of the operation was mainly on the sea area, while the second phase which was launched simultaneously in all the commands will concentrate on the riverine areas.
“Like you all know we launched the first phase of this operation on the 30th of October. We started with the sea exercise in Onne. Now we are here to start the riverine operation and we said the exercise was going to be in two phases.
“Today we are going to start the riverine operation with eleven boats from NNS Delta. This will be going on simultaneously in other command as well”, he said.
Addressing newsmen after the destruction of illegal refineries at Bennett Island, the FOC said the command was ready to rid the waterways off all forms of criminality.
He added that the navy had identified over 200 illegal refineries in the Niger region, stressing that they were going to go after all of them.
“Today you have witnessed our fight against illegal refineries and crude oil theft and you can see that over 20 to 30 hectares of land is been used in that illegal refinery camp.
“You can see that they have destroyed the ecosystem in that place and for this reason we are going to raid them on daily basis”, he added.
Earlier, Commodore Habib Usman, Operation Tactical Command, OTC Operation Octopus Grip, said the operation was not to intimidate anybody but to sharpen the skills of their personnel on riverine operations and to appraise the operational readiness of its personnel and materials.
“This operation is going to take place from the NNS, Delta base to our seashores were our boats are already patrolling. It is in consolidation of several other exercise already in place.
“This exercise will no doubt consolidate on all the efforts so far been made. The mandate of this exercise is to rid our waters of all forms of criminalities and solicit the support of the populace for the smooth conduct of the exercise. This exercise is in not meant to intimidate anyone,” he added.