The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield, said its operatives have dismantled a militant camp in Bakassi local government area of Cross River State. The force disclosed that its operatives destroyed 59 illegal refineries, arrested seven suspects, and 4 barges in its offensive against oil thieves. These disclosures were contained in a statement released Sunday in Yenogoa, the Bayelsa State capital, by the JTF’s media coordinator, Lieutenant-Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu. The statement added that several rounds of ammunition were also recovered from the camp.
“During the clamp down, the troops recovered 24 x 7.62mm round cartons, 5 Browning machine gun ammunitions, 3 x 7.62 mm round special and 7 live cartridges. Other items recovered from the camp include 4 machine gun belts and one passport fiber boat belonging to Inland Water Ways Agency,” the JTF stated.
According to Colonel Nwachukwu, the captured camp was known in the local area as “Efut Esighi.” He said the camp served as an operational base from which pirates and militants attacked their victims.
The spokesman said JTF operatives also destroyed three illegal crude oil distillation camps concealed in a forest at Agbede and Egwua, in Esako West and Warri South West local government areas of Edo and Delta States respectively. Also reportedly confiscated were items used for the militants’ illicit acts, including seven steel surface tanks, seven locally fabricated ovens used for heating up stolen crude oil, 235 metal drums and four dug-out pits containing stolen crude oil.
The JTF added that its agents shut down shut down 56 illegal crude oil distillation camps in operations carried out in Bayelsa and Rivers States. According to its spokesman, JTF troops destroyed 16 “Cotonou” boats, 22 pumping machines, one power generator, 25 zinc plates used for fabricating local crude oil distillers, one welding machine, and 32 sawed pipes used by oil thieves. The troops also impounded four metal barges and a speed boat caught engaging in illegal oil bunkering activities during the operations which took place from November 11 to 22, 2013.
Colonel Nwachukwu further stated that seven suspects were arrested for oil theft-related offences. He revealed that the suspects were undergoing preliminary investigations before they would be handed over to prosecuting agencies.
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