April 28 (Xinhua)
Nigerian troops operating in the oil-rich
Niger Delta region arrested 76 suspects
and seized a marine vessel and barge
used for oil bunkering, the military said
on Sunday. Spokesperson for the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this to reporters in Yenagoa,the capital of Bayelsa State in southern Nigeria.
The anti-theft action was taken on April
15-27, according to the military. He said the vessel MT Shandy with 12 crew members was intercepted on Otokomabie Creek near Oloma Community in Rivers State. Nwachukwu told reporters that eight of the 12 crew members arrested were currently being interrogated in Port Harcourt, while the four others were left behind to man the vessel in Bonny Island.
He said the JTF had also impounded a
barge found at an illegal oil loading point close to Burma Rice Farm between Brass and Obiama waterways in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa. The spokesperson said the barge was arrested with 50,000 liters of suspected
stolen crude oil which had been towed to a terminal for investigation.
Nwachukwu said the task force also
intercepted and destroyed 61 boats,conveying suspected stolen petroleum
products in some parts of Warri South
West Local Government Area of Delta.
The Nigerian Senate said in March that it would not hesitate to endorse death
penalty for illegal bunkering and oil theft in the West African country. Senate President David Mark made the
statement when inaugurating the Senate Joint Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Mark decried the increasing level of theft
of Nigeria’s oil resources, adding that the law should provide for severe sanctions to serve as deterrent.