The military task force, Operation Pulo Shield (OPS) in the Niger Delta has said its troops have arrested some suspected oil thieves and destroyed 23 illegal refineries in Bayelsa and Delta states.
The OPS, with its headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said the troops achieved the feat during their operations last week.
Giving insight into the operations, Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Lt.-Col. Ado Isa, in a statement yesterday, quoted the Commander, OPS, Major General Alani Okunlola, as the anti-illegal oil bunkering squad of Sector 1 deployed in Adagbarasa community in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State arrested four pipeline vandals.
Okunlola said the suspects, who gave their names as Tahiru Mohammed, Mohammed Ibrahim, Asabe Lawal and Bashir Adamu were arrested on the act while breaking the pipeline.
He said two trucks with registration numbers Kaduna KAF 626 XA and Kaduna MKA 542 XA found at the scene were also impounded.
He said both the suspects and trucks were in custody of the OPS for preliminary investigation. He said troops also conducted patrol along Obangos creek in Tibo Community, Warri North LGA of Delta State and destroyed six illegal oil bunkering sites where oil thieves operated with six tarpaulin tanks containing 50,000 litres, each of substances suspected to be crude oil and locally refined Automated Gas Oil, seven cooking pots, 21 drums and a hose measuring 600 metres.
He said the sites and items discovered were destroyed on location and that no arrest was made during the operation as the suspects fled on sighting the troops.
Okunlola added, “Troops deployed in Otegele in Warri South West LGA of Delta State while on land patrol on November 3, 2015 discovered three active illegal refineries where oil thieves operated with 30 dug out pit, seven surface tanks and four drums filled with stolen crude oil. Other items discovered and destroyed include five cooking pots, a hose and two pumping machines.”
The commander said in Sector 2 area of the operation, troops in conjunction with Southern Ijaw LGA Oil and Gas Task Force destroyed at location14 illegal oil bunkering sites along Benekruku, Peramabri and Igbomatoru waterways of Bayelsa State.
He said the sites were destroyed along with 49 drums, nine pits and 12 metal tanks filled with stolen crude and AGO.
He, however, said no arrest was made as the perpetrators fled on sighting the troops, adding that efforts were on top gear to apprehend the fleeing criminals for prosecution.
He also said the maritime component of OPS, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA) on November 5, 2015 carried out a raid in Kantu in Warri South-West LGA of Delta where oil thieves operated with 12 storage tanks and seven overhead tanks loaded with 20 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil.
He said items discovered at the sites included national identity card belonging to Mr.Jimoh Success from Ese Odo LGA of Ondo State.
Meanwhile, Okunlola also warned those engaging in criminal activities in Niger Delta to relocate or get crushed, promising to fish out sea robbers, Kidnappers and other criminals operating in the region for prosecution.
He gave this warning during his address to troops of OPS during his one-day operational visit to Naval Forward Operation Base, Igbokoda, Ondo State.
The Commander, who was received by the Base Commander, Navy Captain Luka Jehu, while inspecting the facilities of the Base, promised to provide necessary support for effective policing of the waterways.
He commended troops for their loyalty while calling on them to key into the OPS zero tolerance campaign against oil theft and illegal oil bunkering.