An unidentified soldier attached to the Joint Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, has died in a boat accident in Bayelsa State.
The unnamed soldier, said to be escorting oil officials from a spill site, reportedly drowned and died at Taylor Creek near an oilfield operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company in Okordia area of Yenagoa.
A community source, who craved anonymity, said the incident occurred on Thursday evening.
The source said that the soldier was on an escort duty and drowned when a boat conveying oil workers across the Taylor Creek capsized.
He said, “The boat conveying the crew from Agip’s field capsized on their way back from the site at the oilfield across and before help could come the soldier had drowned and died.
“They were using a hand paddled canoe to cross the workers one at a time.
“The soldier was washing his boots when water entered the boat and it capsized. His rifle fell into the creek when the other members of the crew had crossed and waiting for him to cross.”
The source said that the attention of the fishermen operating in the creeks was drawn to the soldier and canoe driver of the ill-fated boat, saying that the time the fishermen arrived the soldier had died and could not be rescued.
It was learnt that officials of NAOC, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, and oil workers were returning from an assessment visit to an oil leak site when the incident occurred on Thursday.
The Youth President, Kalaba community in Okordia, Mr. Samuel Oburo, said that the rifle of the dead soldier was recovered by local divers on Friday.
Oburo said, “Some soldiers from Elele barrack came around after the remains of the soldier was recovered and asked me to mobilise local divers in search of the riffle of the soldier.
“We went in search of the gun and we recovered the riffle and handed it over to them, later in the day another senior officer came to show appreciation to the community.”
Spokesman for the OPS, Col. Isa Ado, could not be reached on the telephone for comments on the incident.
Also, he did not respond to a text message.
Eni, parent company of NAOC, has yet to respond to an email seeking a response on the incident
Meanwhile, at least, two soldiers were confirmed dead with several others injured in another boat mishap involving military patrol team around the creeks of Egwa 1 near an SPDC flow station in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Sources told Southern City News that the incident occurred Friday morning at about 10am.
The incident, it was learnt, had thrown the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield and 3 Battalion of the Nigerian Army Effurun into mourning.
Community sources also confirmed the incident, but could not give details.
A senior military officer, who later confirmed the incident, said the military boat was carrying about 10 soldiers when it capsised.
The officer said they were on a normal routine patrol of oil installations around the Egwa 1 community when the incident occurred.
It was further gathered that those who sustained various degrees of injuries have been conveyed to an undisclosed hospital for medical care in the oil city of Warri.
“We lost two of our soldiers to a boat mishap early this morning around Egwa 1 in Warri South West of Delta State.
“They were patrolling the creeks when the incident happened. Report reaching us said scores were injured,” the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Col. Isa Ado, JTF’s spokesman could not be reached for response. Calls and a text message sent to his telephone line were equally not answered or replied.