The Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, has rescued Augustine Ebikeme, the traditional ruler of Oporoma in Bayelsa State abducted by gunmen on November 16.
The spokesperson of the task force, Mustapha Anka, told our correspondent on Tuesday that the monarch, who was kidnapped at Kokori town in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta, was freed on Monday.
According to him, the rescue operation was conducted by a joint team of JTF troops and operatives of the Department of State Security Services who stormed the kidnappers’ hideout during ransom negotiation with the monarch’s family.
“The team which stormed the kidnapper’s hideout on, 24th November 2014 where the victim was being held amid ransom negotiation with the family.
“The royal father was rescued unhurt while suspects fled into surrounding swampy forest.
“The suspects are being trailed, while the house used as hideout was set ablaze,” Mr. Anka said.
He said that the JTF troops in another development impounded an illegal oil bunkering vessel laden with unascertained volume of substance suspected to be stolen crude oil.
He said the vessel registered as MT Ibiena was seized by JTF patrol team along Ogulugha community of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta.
“The vessel which is about 150 feet in length with a kitchen and four cabinet rooms underneath has 12 compartment out of which 6 were filled with crude oil suspected to be stolen.
“The suspects jumped into the water and escaped on sighting our troops.
“The vessel has been taken into custody of JTF for preliminary investigation while efforts are on to apprehend the suspects for prosecution,” Mr. Anka explained.
The JTF Spokesman said that the commander of the Task Force Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe has warned all vessel owners to always verify the intended use of their vessel before letting it out.
He insisted any vessel impounded and found to be involved in illegal bunkering activity will be destroyed.
It will be recalled that the troops of the JTF in line with the zero tolerance campaign have destroyed some vessels, trucks and other illegal bunkering equipment within the last one year.