The military task force deployed to protect oil facilities in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, says it has arrested suspected vandals behind the recent pipeline blasts in the region.
Blasts on a crude and gas pipeline at Escravos, Delta, resulted in the shut-down of Warri and Port Harcourt refineries, cutting gas supply to some power plants recently.
Another pipeline blast on Agip’s facility on January 28 resulted in a drop by 16,000 barrels of oil equivalent of the company’s 40,000 barrels daily export from Brass Oil Export Terminal of the Bayelsa coastline.
According to a statement by the spokesman of Operation Pulo Shield, Isa Ado, the arrest followed a charge by the commander of the joint force, Alani Okunlola, to apprehend those behind the act.
Mr. Ado, a colonel, said the suspects in custody were being interrogated to ascertain their level of involvement and to help in arresting other suspects still at large.
He said surveillance patrols in the region had been intensified towards ensuring that all suspected militants behind the pipeline sabotage were brought to book.
“Operation Pulo Shield remains determined to track and arrest perpetrators of the recent multiple attacks and bombing of some oil pipelines and installations across the Niger Delta region.
“Some suspects were arrested and currently undergoing thorough preliminary investigation to ascertain their degree of involvement before handing them over to prosecuting agencies, while effort is on to track and arrest fleeing vandals.
“The success of the arrest was due to highly intensified patrols and cordon and search on the waterways, creeks and communities by the task force.
“It is in line with the directives of the commander of Operation Pulo Shield, Major-General Alani Gafar Okunlola, to apprehend those behind the criminal act,” Mr. Ado stated.
The statement quoted the commander of the joint force as assuring the people of Niger Delta of the task force’s determination to wipe out illegal activities in the region.
He also called on people to give useful information that would help the task force in its operations.
He warned the perpetrators of the crime to desist from further destruction of oil facilities or face the wrath of the law.