Fresh concern over security in the Niger Delta region heightened yesterday after the alleged discovery of an illegal armoury in a private residence in Bille Ttown, Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The arms were unearthed by troops of 130 Battalion attached to the Sector 2 of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, code-named ‘Operation Pulo Shield’, who carried out a cordon-and-search operation in Bille on Friday.
Troops acting on a tip-off moved into the Ijaw town with an estimated population of about 250,000 at 3am, one hour after they left Port Harcourt.
The operation, led by the commanding officer of the battalion, Lt Col Caius Baushe, lasted till 6am.
Two G3 rifles, five pieces of AK- 47 rifles and a Barreta pistol were recovered from the house owned by a prominent leader in the area.
Also found were 260rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, nine rounds of 7.62mm and two rounds of K2 ammon.
The search also revealed 10 AK-47 magazines, binoculars and 592cm of detonator cords.
Nine suspects arrested along with the weapons during the operation were taken to the Bori Camp of the Nigeria Army on Friday afternoon.
The weapons were reportedly discovered in a private residence in the community but it could not be ascertained if the landlord was among the suspects arrested.
The Nation on Sunday authoritatively gathered that troops from the Sector 2 of the JTF stormed the community following reports of arms build-up in there.
The Joint Media Campaign Coordinator of the JTF, Lt. Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed the report in a telephone interview with our reporter.
He said, “Acting on intelligence report that some persons were illegally storing arms in a community in Rivers State, troops of 130 Battalion covering Sector 2 JTF area of responsibility carried out a cordon and search operation that lasted from 3am to 6.30am today (Friday) at Bille community.”
“Nine suspects arrested in connection with the illegal armoury are currently undergoing preliminary investigations at the Headquarters Sector 2 before they will be handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agency,” Lt. Col Nwachukwu added.
Meanwhile, a very reliable source in the town who does not want to be named told our reporter that the discovery was just a tip of the iceberg.
“These people have been acquiring arms and ammunition. What was seized yesterday (Friday) was just a drop in the ocean of weapons in this community and environs. People are not saying anything now because they have been cowed and afraid of going to the police because security operatives in the area are no longer trusted,” our source added.