Former Flag Officer Commanding, Naval Training Command, Apapa, Lagos State, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, has officially taken over as the Commander of the Operation Delta Safe.
Okojie took over from the Commander of the defunct Joint Military Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, Major General Alani Okunlola now deployed to the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
It would be recalled that the Defence Headquarters had scrapped the JTF in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, as part of the efforts to ensure better protection of oil pipelines and curtail insecurity in the region.
The formal handover ceremony, which included the replacement of the OPS flag with that of the ODS’s flag took place at the new headquarters of the Operation Delta Safe at Igbogene on the outskirts of Yenagoa.
Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie is the first military officer from the Navy to assume the headship of the command since its inception as joint task force was previously commanded by an Army general.
Speaking to journalists after inspecting a guard of honour, Okunlola said during his tenure as OPS commander, he and his team had recorded a number of achievements
“We came, we saw, we conquered. Nigeria expects everybody to do their duties and I have done mine in the Niger Delta,” Okunlola stated.
On the challenges he confronted as the OPS commander, the outgone commander confessed they were numerous, mentioning the Niger Delta terrain, threat to security in the region as some of the challenges.
“The terrain of the region itself is a challenge. It is a very difficult challenge and of course you know all the threats to security in the environment which we have been contending with.
“And of course, you know logistics can never be enough but the Federal Government has done enough to support us and with the support we had, we were able to achieve the milestones we achieved.
“One of the biggest achievements is that we arrested a number of vessels, big vessels that were involved in illegal bunkering, we busted some kidnap cases, we destroyed numerous illegal refining spots. We were able to an extent curtail illegal oil bunkering and illegal oil refineries.”
Okunlola, who urged Nigerians to pray for the repose of the souls of their colleagues lost during his stay, said a number of security operatives died.
He described Okojie as a very seasoned military officer whom he described as his boss.
“Okojie is my boss because I have worked with him before. I know the stuff he is made of and I know that with somebody like him at the helm, the operation will move forward.”
In his brief remarks, Okojie said his leadership would plug into where Okunlola stopped in order to ensure seamless operations in the Niger Delta.
He vowed that in line with the mandate of the Operation Delta Safe, he and his colleagues would rout criminalities in the region.