The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, has ordered officers and soldiers to be physically fit and mentally alert as the fight against insurgency and oil theft heats up.
Buratai made the call at the inauguration of a gymnasium for the personnel of 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He said: As professionals, officers and soldiers must be physically fit at all times.
“Physical training will enable them to have stamina and endurance to withstand the security challenges confronting the nation.
“We know the challenges the nation is facing in the North East and the recent escalation of militancy, piracy and other criminal activities in the Niger Delta.
“So, the personnel must be physically fit and alert to enable them to be in a better position to perform their duties when deployed to operational areas to combat security challenges.”
Buratai said the gymnasium, built by Brigadier General Koko Essien, the Commander of the brigade, conformed to his vision of putting in place a professionally responsive army to expertly perform its constitutional roles.
The army chief said all dilapidated accommodation structures in barracks and units in the country would be renovated within six months to improve the living conditions and boost the morale of personnel.
Meanwhile, the army said on Sunday that it had begun the mop up of illegal refineries in Rivers State and environs.
The brigade commander said in Ogu-Bolo, Rivers State that the operation, which began on July 27, had so far discovered and destroyed 60 illegal refineries.
Essien said: “2 Brigade Army Port Harcourt is conducting 30 days operation clean up of illegal refineries in areas covering Onne, Kedera, Bedera, Bolo and other areas of the state.
“The operation is part of our renewed effort to stamp out all illegal bunkering activities and illegal refineries in our area of responsibility.
“So far, the operation has led to the discovery and destruction of 60 illegal refineries in just 13 days.”
Essien said the operation had adopted the use of “Swamp Buggy” machine, which crushed metallic tanks, thereby making it impossible for oil thieves to revive destroyed refineries.
Essien, represented by Lieutenant Colonel Adebayo Lawal, the Commanding Officer of the Brigade’s Intelligence Group, said the operation was in response to renewed commitment to tackle oil theft.
He said: “We realised that whenever we burn down illegal refineries with metal tanks, some days after our troops leave the scene, the oil thieves would return and revive the refineries.
“The use of Swamp Buggy machines is very effective because it makes the refineries impossible to be restored.”
Essien said the exercise would be sustained until all illegal refineries in the state were completely destroyed.
He said in spite of the destruction so far done, the task force would continue to carry out air and ground surveillance of the creeks to ensure that new illegal refineries did not spring up.
He warned criminals to look for legitimate means of making money as the task force was sure to arrest and prosecute anyone found culpable of sabotaging oil and gas installations.