Some troops of Operation DELTA SAFE in Southern Cross River State discovered four militant shrines with 23 human skulls in various stages of decomposition, one complete human skeleton, and several other human body parts, according to an official statement issued on Thursday and signed by Kevin Aligbe, the group’s Acting Commander.
The shrines were destroyed as troops continue the search for the perpetrators of these heinous acts, Brigadier General Aligbe added.
In a related development, the statement said other troops of the command in Bayelsa State arrested 44 members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) at Lakeview Club on Mabinton Estate.
It said the group was planning to establish the Bayelsa State Chapter of the group and disrupt public peace within the Joint Operations Area of Operation DELTA SAFE.
“They were duly arrested and have been handed over to relevant authorities for further investigations. The unity of Nigeria is non–negotiable and sacrosanct. Hence any unlawful gathering that will cause mayhem, threaten the unity and sovereignty of the country will not be condoned.”
Brig. General Aligbe said the raid in which the human skulls and remains were found covered Ikot Ene Idem, Abakpa and Ikang Inam in Bakassi and Akpabuyo Local Government Areas of Cross River State, following a tip-off.
“With the clearance of these shrines, the Bakassi Strike Force have effectively been smoked out from the area they used to hold sway. It should be noted that the senseless killing of humans for ritual purposes is sacrilegious and will not be tolerated in any form.”
He said troops also arrested two suspects while on patrol at Idebe Ifak Anam, Ikot Okon Edem and Abakpa of Bakassi Local Government Area in Cross River State, with a preliminary investigation revealing them to be agents of Bakassi Strike Force militants.
He further disclosed that last Sunday, following a distress call from Finima in Bonny of an attack by some cult members using AK-47 rifles to terrorize members of the community, troops immediately raided their hideout.
“The suspected kingpin popularly referred to as Eagle Face [dived] into the river on sighting troops. Two of the suspected cult members were arrested; one locally made pistol, one machete, and 2 handsets were recovered."
The body of ‘Eagle Face’ was seen floating in the creeks two days later by locals who recovered and buried it on the Bonny river bank, he said, and efforts are continuing, towards apprehending other members of the group.
Thanking members of the public for their cooperation and timely provision of information to troops, Brig. General Aligbe re-assured residents and oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region of their safety and urged them to go about their legitimate businesses.
“Operation DELTA SAFE has the full backing of the Federal Government of Nigeria to bring sanity to the Joint Operation Area within its Rules of Engagement,” he said.