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Operation Delta Safe: Return of Suleiman as OPDS commander

JOY EMMANUEL writes on the return of Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman as Commander Operation Delta Safe, and the successes in combating crime in the restive coastal region. 


As militants come to their kneels

They have been relative peace in the Niger Delta region since last year. Militancy, sea pirate and other negative vices in the water ways and creek have reduced to its barest minimum.  This is kudos to Operation Delta Safe, led by its Commander Admiral Apochi Suleiman.

Described as workaholic, dogged and a leader sensitive to his environment, Apochi has fought criminals in the creeks to a standstill.

In his recent address to journalists on the success of the OPDS, Suleiman said: “so far, you can agree with me that there has been relative peace within our joint operation area. What we have seen so far shows that our troops are ready and prepared for any eventuality. We are sure of enforcing the mandate that has been given to us.

“Since my resumption of duty last, we have succeeded in reducing crimes in the Niger Delta and our waterways is now calm.”

Established in 2016, Operation Delta Safe was charged by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, to secure the creeks, stop attack on oil installation, illegal refineries, and ensure peace and security in the Niger Delta region.

Suleiman’s success story in the Niger Delta region did not start from his leadership of the Operation Delta Safe, but began in 2015 he held sway as the Flag Officer Commanding Central Naval Command Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

On assumption of duty in 2015, it took Suleiman only few months to restore total transformation, both in the officers and ratings, as well as in structures and activities in the region that he began to receive commendations among the indigenes. Suleiman also achieved many feats in the region, especially in reducing illegal refineries and deal decisively with militants in the creeks, due to his zero tolerance for oil theft.


Second coming of a commander

Because of his achievement when he was in charge at the Central Naval Command, which was accomplishments by the Defence Headquarters, Suleiman was swiftly redeployed back to the region as the Commander Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe..

The statement of his deployment reads: “This change becomes necessary in order to inject new capability and to contain the prevailing security threats and provide adequate protection much needed for stability in the region.”

“My main mandate is to protect oil and gas Infrastructure and  deter  or prevent militancy , sea robbery , crude oil theft and other  forms of criminality within the  Niger Delta region, through joint operations with sister services and other security agencies,” Suleiman said.

“On my resumption of duty I toured all the military formation under the general area of the Niger Delta, and have continued to till today.”


….and they cheated death

Though determined to end criminalities in the oil region, Suleiman pursue the mandate with all his heart, but not without risking his life. Just recently an accident occurred that almost claimed his life and that of some of his lieutenant during an operational patrol

Blueprint gathered that  OPDS Commander, Commander Nigerian Naval Ship (NNS) Victory, Operation Delta Safe Component Commanders, Commander Sector 4 along with other Senior Officers and soldiers fell into Ikang River, due to complete collapse of the Jetty at Ikang.


A crusader of zero tolerance to criminalities

The Commander OPDS has been described by many a crusader of zero tolerance for crime and criminality. He did not only confront the criminals in their hideouts, but also engages in diplomacy in winning the hearts of the people. This he does by taking the message of a crime free society to the door steps of the indigenes and residents of the Niger Delta region. he preaches at at every gathering and events.

He also charges officers and personnel to always be responsible and take their jobs with utmost seriousness, as well as to shun corruption..

“I want to reiterate here that personnel should work with the right attitude,” he said. “They should be committed to their work to realise the mission and for the interest of Nigerians.

“For the commanders on ground, let me sound it loud and clear that the authorities will not tolerate any form of compromise on their part in carrying out their operations.

“Collaboratively, we are going to do the job set out, without compromises. We will not tolerate those who aid and abet criminal activities. The Nigerian government is paying all of us well and we must justify it and portray the force in good light. We must do our work well to achieve the mandate of the force in tackling illegalities.

“To my commanders, whether my seniors, subordinates and contemporaries, I urge you all to join hands with me to achieve our collective goals; we must put the interest of the force and Nigerians at heart at all times.”


More discoveries

Under his watch Operation Delta Safe has uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Arhavwarien, Ughelli area of Delta State and recovered assorted weapons, which including 28 guns , cartridges and military equipment. This followed an intelligence of an arms manufacturing gang in the area. The gang was said to be in the business of supplying deadly ammunition to cultists, pirates, militants and armed robbers.

To OPDS Commander whose philosophy centered on troops welfare, he has always ensure that the personnel live in very conducive environment and their allowances are paid promptly. This he said is one of the key motivators of personnel.

As an officer, Suleiman humility earned him good and friendly relationship with the civilians and traditional rulers. This many believe could be the secret of his success in the region, as he continue to explore the avenue to forge synergy that have resulted to reduction in crime and criminalities in the region.

Recently at the inauguration of the Nigerian Air Force (NSF), Mobility command Gymnasium centre in  Bayelsa state, Suleiman commended the Air force for putting the facility and emphasised the importance of physical fitness to troops.

he said the facility will enhance military operations, a troops would be physically fit to perform their duties diligently and effectively.


Pundits view

With the various successes achieved so far in the Niger Delta region in the area of curtailing crime such as oil theft, militancy and pipeline vandalism, analyst called on the Federal Government and the military not to rest on their oars to ensure continue peace in the region, which they say will continue to translate to more revenue for the government that will propel development across the country.


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