15 July, 2013
Troops of 3 Battalion, 5 Battalion, 146 Battalion and 343 Regiment of the Nigerian Army and men of the Nigerian Navy’s Forwarding Operating Base FOB Formoso, all on Joint Task Force anti-oil-theft operations have, in a series of operations mounted 3-12 July across the Niger Delta, impounded a total of three barges, a tugboat and forty nine (49) open boats, scuttling 35 illegal oil distillation camps and arresting fifteen suspects in the process. A total of 600,000 litres (18 road tankerloads) of illegally distilled diesel were also seized in the process.
These details were contained in a press statement issued by the Media Coordinator of the JTF (Operation Pulo Shield) Lt Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu and made available to Beegeagle’s Blog. The statement reads:
“Anti-oil theft patrol teams of 146 and 5 Battalions of the Joint Task Force (JTF) OPERATION PULO SHIELD have arrested 3 self-propelled barges and a tug boat, during a recent patrol of the creeks and waterways in the Niger Delta.Two of the barges MV LAMME and MT FUFUSWAY were laden respectively with 100,000 litres and 500,000 litres of illegally distilled Automated Gas oil (AGO) sourced from stolen crude oil.
The barges which had eleven crew members on board were intercepted around Bonny Anchorage in Rivers state and are now in safe custody of Sub Sector 5, while the crew members on board both barges have been conveyed to Headquarters Sector 2 in Port Harcourt for further investigation. A third barge christened DFC 2 was arrested along Azagbene River in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa state without its crew members.
The patrol teams also impounded 2 open boats caught while attempting to siphon crude oil near the SPDC burnt pipeline site at Bodo West.
“In a similar operation, troops of 3 Battalion anti-oil-theft patrol team of Sector 1 of the JTF led by the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ifeayin Otu have uncovered an illegal fuel dump concealed in a shrine at Egbekodo community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state where 230 drums of illegally distilled Automated Gas Oil were impounded. The troops also uncovered and scuttled thirteen illegal oil distillery camps where the oil thieves had concealed 34 dugout pits, 37 steel surface reservoirs, 360 drums and 44 open boats filled with stolen crude oil, along Benneth Island, Gbekebor, Iffie communities and Ogbokodo creek in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta state.
“During the operation, two suspects,Queen Maku and Sylvester Togo were arrested with 8 live cartridges and one empty cartridge. The suspects are currently in custody for preliminary investigation.
“In Bayelsa state, troops of 343 Regiment of Sector 2 and Forward Operational Base (FOB FORMOSO) of the JTF deployed in Southern Ijaw and Brass have clamped down 22 illegal crude oil distillery sites and scuttled 3 open wooden boats and 500 drums used as implements by oil thieves along Masonkiri, Lagosgbene, Oyeregbene, Igbematoru, Ekiambiri and Polubobou communities in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.
“During the anti-oil-theft operations which lasted from 3 – 12 July, 2013; fifteen oil theft suspects were taken into custody and are currently undergoing preliminary investigations before they will be handed over to relevant prosecuting security agencies.
Meanwhile the Commander JTF(OPERATION PULO SHIELD) Major General Bata Debiro has called on all community leaders and youth in the Niger Delta to synergize with the JTF to bring the oil theft menace in the region to complete cessation. General Bata Debiro made this clarion call during an anti-oil theft advocacy and security assessment tour to Bonny Island where he addressed a group of community leaders and youth drawn from Lagosgbene and the surrounding communities of Bonny Anchorage in Rivers State.
Making this call, General Debiro noted, that illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism and illegal refineries are all heinous crimes that not only threaten the economic security of Nigeria, but also degrade the environment and aquatic life of the good people of the Niger Delta and therefore require a conglomeration of efforts to totally eradicate.
He urged the youth of the Niger Delta to join hands with the JTF to kick out the menace of oil theft by giving the necessary support and cooperation to JTF operational bases in and around their communities, rather than stand aloof and watch criminals unleash destruction on their environment and take away their aquatic life, adding, that this will inevitably protect their future.”