By Desmond Ejibas, Port Harcourt.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) operating in the Niger Delta on Monday handed over hundreds of small and light weapons to the Federal Government.
Rear Adm. Aminu Hassan, Commander, JTF South-South Operation Delta Safe, handed over the firearms to the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) in Port Harcourt.
The Federal Government in 2021 established NCCSALW, as part of its efforts to end the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country.
Hassan said the weapons and ammunition were recovered during various operations by troops of Operation Delta Safe in the Niger Delta.
“The handover of the weapons reflects our efforts and successes in stemming the tide of criminal attacks on communities and individuals in our joint operational area.
“We were able to achieve this by adopting, both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches, at community, local government and state levels.
“These approaches recently led to the recovery of large small arms and light weapons from criminal elements, which are on display and will be handed over to NCCSALW,” he said.
Hassan said that Operation Delta Safe had so far recovered 3,551 small and light arms since it commenced the operation in 2016.
He said that troops were able to record several successes through its partnership with communities, relevant civil society groups and other stakeholders.
“Consequently, we have arrested numerous suspects, including oil thieves; recovered weapons and prosecuted those fanning embers of crises in our joint operational area.
“We achieve this through several raid operations on criminal hideouts, rescue operations, cordon-and-search as well as patrols on both land and waterways.
“Therefore, anybody that knows that he or she is not entitled to bear weapons or already in custody of weapons should quickly hand them over to us,” he said.
He said that Operation Delta Safe was fully committed to implementing President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent directive on immediate mop-up of weapons by security agencies.
Receiving the weapons, the NCCSALW Zonal Coordinator, South-South, Gen. Effiok Obot, commended Operation Delta Safe for its collaboration with the centre.
He said that the centre would immediately profile the weapons and, thereafter, destroy them, in compliance with its mandate.
Obot said that the Federal Government was concerned about the proliferation of illicit weapons in the country and was committed to mopping up the weapons.
“We have partnered with the Armed Forces, the police, paramilitary agencies and the general public to mop up small and light weapons in the country,” he said.