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Army Confirms Loss of 4 Soldiers

Posted by By Lere Ojedokun and Okey Onwucheka, Daily Champion (Lagos) on 2006/01/18 | Views: 477 |

Army Confirms Loss of 4 Soldiers


FOUR soldiers and eight assailants died last Sunday when gunmen attacked the Shell Benisede pumping station in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa State.

FOUR soldiers and eight assailants died last Sunday when gunmen attacked the Shell Benisede pumping station in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa State.

Commander of the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Brig.-Gen. Elias Zamani, who disclosed this yesterday said that the whereabouts of the four abducted expatriates remained unknown.

Also yesterday, President Olusegun Obsasnjo raised a team to secure the immediate release of four expatriates abducted by suspected sea pirates January 11.

The committee was the outcome of closed-door meeting between the President senior military and security chiefs as well as governors from the Niger Delta.

Similarly, the Bayelsa State government has enlisted the services of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Central zone to help secure release of the hostages who are workers on contract with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Although details on the composition of the committee and its terms of reference were not revealed, a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mrs Oluremi Oyo said Obasanjo mandated the committee to ensure prompt release of oil workers held hostage.

He also appealed to those responsible for kidnap of the oil workers and vandalisation of installations "not to do anything that might result in the loss of lives".

In attendance at the meeting were Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governors Peter Odili (Rivers), Goodluck Jonathan (Bayelsa), James Ibori (Delta) and Olusegun Agagu (Ondo).

Others were the National Security Adviser (NSA), Lt Gen. Aliyu Mohammed-Gusau (rtd), Minister of Defence, Alhaji Musa Kwankwaso, Minister of Police Affairs, Chief Broderick Bozimo, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Frank Nweke (Jr) Minister of State for Defence, Dr Rowland Oritsejafor and his counterpart in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr Edmund Daukoru.

Also in attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Alexander Ogomudia, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Jonah Wuyep and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Sunday Ehindero.

Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Maj Gen Halidu Giwa, Director-General of the State Security Services (SSS), Col. Kayode Are (rtd), Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporationm Mr Funso Kupolokun as well as the Director-General, NIgeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Mr. Abolurin were also at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi held close-door meeting with officials of the central zone of the IYC at the Government House, Yenagoa, Monday to chart a way forward in the impasse.

We further gathered that the youths had been mobilized both financially and materially to lead the rescue operation, just as security agencies are equally enlisting their support to end the hostage crisis. The rescue mission coincides with high level of security alert in the riverine communities

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Government has assured people of the state of safety and asked them to go about their normal duties without fear.

According to a statement signed by the governor's press secretary Mr. Welson Ekiyor, the government is working hard to salvage the situation.

He noted the four expatriates are still alive, while efforts are on to dialogue with the kidnappers in the deep sea of Ekeremor.

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