Abayomi Olonishakin, chief of defence staff, on Monday said the military would engage Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) 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.
“Government and military is using multi-faceted approach rather than force alone to ensure that resurgent attacks on oil and gas installations are stopped,” he said.
“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-hour patrol of about 5,000 creeks and waterways in the region.
The military chief said the provision of military hardware would boost capacity of Operation Pulo Shield, the joint task force (JTF) outfit, 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 said.
Olonishakin commended the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Stevenson Olabanji, commander of army 2 brigade Port Harcourt, for the repair of the boats.
Also, Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, said the armed forces were currently faced with logistics challenges in its operations in the Niger Delta.
However, he said the challenges would not deter troops from continuing to fight the menace of sea piracy, militancy, oil theft and general insecurity in the region.
Other service chiefs at the event included Ibok-Ete Ibas, chief of naval staff; Sadique Abubakar, chief of air staff; Ibrahim Attahiru, and the general officer commanding 82 division, Enugu, among others.