A coalition of youths from the Niger Delta have protested in Abuja on June 1, 2018, demanding for the removal of the Commander of the JTF now renamed Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman. The JTF commander is being accused of participating in oil theft and protecting oil thieves.
There were hundreds of youths from the Niger Delta region in Abuja on Friday as the demonstrations grounded activities in major parts of Abuja – from Central Area to Wuse. The group which was led by the coalition of Niger Delta Civil Society activists and the Niger Delta Environmental Protection Group.
The protesters carried placards bearing different inscriptions such as:”Please Save Nigerian Economy from the hands of Apochi and his oil bunker friends;EFCC please save Niger Delta and arrest Chief Bunkerer of Nigeria Apochi Sulaiman and his bribe collector, Dagogo Gilbert;Apochi sabotaging the Chief of Defence Staff Anti-vandalism and Bunkering Programme in the Niger Delta among others.
Earlier in the week, the people of Bille community in Rivers State had written an open letter to President Buhari requesting that Apochi Suleiman be removed as the Commander of Operation Delta Safe. This is due to his support for illegal oil bunkering activities along the Nembe Creek Trunk Line which is destroying the pipeline and devastating their land through attendant oil spill. They called on the Federal Government to send in fresh troops, as the current ones in the area are already compromised. They have also requested that the Head of Operation Delta Safe should be questioned immediately.
“Bille Youths have decided to support peace but the head of Operation Delta Safe, is putting our youths under pressure to join their stealing. We want the Federal Government to send fresh army to save us. The security officers in the area can no longer protect us, they are the ones stealing now. Oil thieves are destroying the pipeline and oil spill is destroying our land.”
According to the Bille Youth Vanguard, the crime has continued unabated, despite the presence of a security base within the area.
“Every single day, oil bunkering and pipeline damage is happening in Bille. Even though there are security officers in the area, this crime has increased more than ever before. Our community is normal in the day time but at night it will turn into a marketplace for crude oil, whereby oil is lifted openly like they are buying and selling in Aba market, yet we have a security base around there.”