We Fired At Illegal Bunkers And Not Cargo Boat – DH

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The Defence Headquarters, DH has said that they fired at illegal bunkers and not cargo boat.

We Fired At Illegal Bunkers And Not Cargo Boat – DH

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has denied claims of shooting at a passenger boat along the Port Harcourt – Bonny waterway in Rivers State on Thursday August 26.

Spokesman for the DHQ, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr in a statement released on Monday August 30, said operatives of the force did not shoot at “any cargo boat conveying people and food stuff from Port Harcourt to Bonny”.

Sawyerr said Air Component of the Joint Task Force Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS) which was dispatched to provide close air support mission along the Cawthorne Channel, encountered an illegal oil bunkerers’ boat popularly called ‘Cotonou Boat’, suspected to be carrying illegally refined oil products in large drums along the Channel in the direction of OPDS patrol boats and being escorted by 2 speed boats.

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He added that after warning shots were fired to dissuade the crew from hostile action, the crew fired back at the helicopter and the boat was engaged accordingly.

The DHQ spokesperson urged the general public to disregard any report at variance to what had been detailed, adding that the military remains a professional institution that operates in line with best practices through the application of rule of engagement and code of conduct.

The statement read;

“On receiving the report a combat helicopter was dispatched to provide close air support mission along the Cawthorne Channel.

“The helicopter encountered an illegal oil bunkerers’ boat popularly called ‘Cotonou Boat’. The boat which was being escorted by 2 speedboats was suspected to be carrying illegally refined oil products in large drums along the Channel in the direction of OPDS patrol boats.

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“On sighting the boat, warning shots were fired to dissuade the crew from hostile action. The crew fired back at the helicopter and the boat was engaged accordingly.

“The 2 speedboats detached from the convoy at high speed leaving the ‘Cotonou Boat’ which was neutralized.

“The suspects are still at large and a manhunt has been sent out to apprehend them.

“It is also positioned to protect the populace rather than victimising them. Efforts by anyone to protect criminality by disparaging the actions of the Military in preventing economic sabotage and other sundry crimes need to be condemned by all.”