JTF claims credit for release of abducted Indian sailors

The military Joint Task Force (JTF) operating in the Niger Delta region of the country yesterday said it was responsible for the rescue of three Indians abducted by a nine-gang of kidnappers in Rivers State.

The claim is contained in a statement issued by the JTF Media Coordinator, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State yesterday.

SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had reported in its edition of yesterday that the Department of State Security (SSS) had over the weekend laid claim to the daring rescue effort.

But Nwachukwu, who gave the names of the Indians as Kanishk Johrar, Mohinder Saini, and Balwinder Singh, said they were sailors abducted board a fishing trawler at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, a month ago.

The JTF spokesman said that their captors moved them into the shores of the Nigerian waters and demanded one million dollars ransom.

He said the JTF tracked the abductors to their hide out at Abissa, a small fishing port in Akuku’ Toru, Local Government Area of Rivers and arrested five suspects.

In another statement, the spokesman said the JTF operation pulo shield uncovered 12 illegal oil distillation camps in Ugheli South and Warri South-West Local Government Areas of Delta.

He said the JTF uncovered 28 Cotonu boats, 24 underground storage tanks containing about 70,000 litres of illegally distilled automated gas oil (AGO),  547 steel drums and five surface tanks.

The others are 22 plastic tanks filled with illegally refined AGO, five speed boats loaded with 150 drums of refined AGO, 47 fabricated steel pots and 37 ovens used for cooking illegally sourced crude oil.

He added that the 10 suspects arrested were currently at the JTF headquarters for further investigations.

Nwachukwu further said that the troops also arrested seven other suspects for pipeline vandalism and oil-related crimes.

He said the troops also discovered and scuttled one wooden boat, six illegal crude oil dumps and 20 metal drums containing illegally refined AGO.

The spokesman said the 10 days operation started on Jan. 20 and ended Feb. 2, adding that the 17 suspects were undergoing preliminary investigations.