The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta has nabbed 29 oil thieves and destroyed 127 illegal oil refineries in various locations in the area.
The Media Coordinator of the JTF, Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, who made the disclosure in a statement on Sunday in Yenagoa, said that the anti-oil theft operations were carried out between Sept. 16 and Sept. 28.
“Between 16th and 28th of Sept., we carried out multiple anti-oil-theft operations in which a total of 29 suspects were arrested for oil theft related offences.
“Anti-oil theft troops of the Joint Task Force `Operation Pulo Shield’ also crushed 127 illegal crude oil distillation sites in the Niger Delta.’’
The JTF spokesman explained that troops of the 19 and 3 Battalions of the JTF, covering Edo and Delta also scuttled 24 illegal oil distillation camps and 73 wooden boats.
“31 of the 73 boats were intercepted at an illegal crude oil loading point close to an abandoned oil well-head in Okpoghare in Warri North.’’
He said that another 27 arrested boats were intercepted in Egara Creek in the Warri South Local Government Area of Delta.
Nwachukwu said that the operation also swept through Ajide in Lagos; Makara, Egwu Aghara Waterside in Warri North; West, Warri South West and Ethiope West Local Government Areas of Delta.
“JTF operatives also intercepted 61 pieces of 75 HP speed boats and a truck laden with 33,000 litres of automated gas oil in the afore mentioned areas which are notorious for oil theft.
“502 drums, 22 steel tanks, four plastic surface tanks, 77 metal drums laden with stolen crude oil and four pumping machines used by the oil thieves were also scuttled during the operation,’’ Nwachukwu said.
Also in Bayelsa, JTF troops of the 343 Regiment, patrolling the waterways of Oyeregbere, Lagosbene and Mansokiri communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, destroyed 98 illegal crude oil dumps.
The JTF spokesman said that 119 illegal distillation tanks and 37 large open wooden boats, laden with stolen crude oil and illegally distilled automated gas oil were destroyed by troops.
He said that troops of the 29 Battalion and its Gunboat Patrol Team, covering the Sector 2 area of Bayelsa, in a separate anti-oil-theft operation, arrested a vessel, MT Tora Eagle with 11 crew members.
“The troops also arrested a barge with three crew members along Bodo Waterway and Akassa Creek in Rivers and Bayelsa, respectively.
“The barge was intercepted while conveying uncertain quantity of illegally obtained crude oil, while the vessel was laden with 3,600 drums of stolen petroleum products.
“The troops also scuttled five illegal crude oil distillation sites and 10 wooden boats filled with stolen crude oil along Lewe, Bodo, Elem Sagangama, Oluwasiri and Bodo West in Rivers State.’’
Nwachukwu said that all the suspects were undergoing preliminary investigations, after which they would be handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies for prosecution. [NAN]