The Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) code-named “Operation Delta Safe” said on Thursday that it freed seven kidnapped oil workers of a multi-national firm.
The agency also said it destroyed no fewer than 436 illegal refineries in the Niger-Delta region.
John Agim, acting director, Defence Information, disclosed this while briefing journalists in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital.
Mr Agim, a brigadier-general, said the task force identified active militant camps at Okparakiri, Sanikiri and Okporama communities, and on a tip-off, arrested suspected sea robbers and cultists terrorising Abonnema-Buguma in Rivers waterways.
“Seven Nigerian Agip Oil Company maintenance workers kidnapped while carrying out an assessment of a blasted wellhead in Azuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government of Bayelsa were rescued and released un-armed,” he said.
“We have also recovered several dangerous items such as 230 different types of arms, 240 assorted ammunition, 11 barges, 101 outboard engines, 135 pumping machines from the criminals,” he added.
The general said that the illegal refineries were destroyed in the operation carried out from October to-date which was named ”Operation 777.”
He said the task force also arrested 266 persons for alleged various offences and handed them over to the appropriate government agencies for prosecution.
“The force has nabbed a suspected notorious militant kingpin, Gift Apollo aka ‘Thousand’ whose gang is responsible for the attack and death of soldiers deployed to Abua/Oduma Creeks between Rivers and Bayelsa State.
“The operation has helped in destroying about 436 illegal refineries, 609 boats, 1,507 surface tanks and 1,538 drums used for illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
“The operation has also recorded several significant achievements by men and officers of the JTF.
“Anti-illegal bunkering and illegal refining operation was carried out in Okaka community in Bayelsa State which has become notorious for crude oil theft and illegal refining,” he said.
Suleiman Apochi, the commander, “Operation Delta Safe,” said with the operation of the JTF in the region, the level of vandalism in oil infrastructures had drastically dropped.
The efforts of the security agencies in the Niger Delta, coupled with dialogue led by the federal government, have ensured steady production and export of Nigerian crude from the region.
In the past, activities of militants and armed groups in the region reduced Nigeria’s crude production by as much as 50 per cent.
Nigeria currently exports about 1.8 million barrels of crude daily although it has an OPEC (Oil Producing and Exporting Countries) quota of about 2.1 million barrels.
However, OPEC members are currently discussing a slash in production and Nigeria is one of the countries expected to have a reduction in its production quota.