The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, on Friday said it has impounded a vessel laden with 1,500 metric tons of illegally refined automotive gas oil.
The spokesperson of the JTF, Ado Isa, a lieutenant colonel, told reporters at the task force’s headquarters in Yenagoa on Friday that the vessel registered as MV Europort was seized at Foropa waterways in Bayelsa.
Mr. Ado said operatives of the JTF on patrol duties at about 2.30 a.m. on June 2 arrested the vessel in Forropa creeks in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa.
“The 2,000 metric tons capacity vessel was arrested by the JTF operatives patrol team following a tip off at about 02.30 hrs on 2 June, 2015,” Mr. Ado said.
“The vessel was discovered carrying 1,500 metric tons of illegally refined automotive gas oil. The suspects boarded a speed boat and sailed into the high sea on sighting the JTF troops.”
According to the JTF spokesperson, the vessel, stationed at Foropa creeks, is currently being guarded by the troops as efforts are intensified to apprehend the suspected oil thieves and crew of the vessel.
He said in another development, troops of the task force operating in Eleme at Port Harcourt seized a truck laden with 33,000 liters of suspected stolen crude.
Mr. Ado said the truck, with registration number Anambra 784 AWK, was arrested at Onne and destroyed with its contents.
The driver of the truck reportedly absconded on sighting the JTF troops.
“It is hoped that these arrests will discourage other intending criminals from any act of illegal oil related crimes which is a severe economic crime to our great country, Nigeria,” he said.
“Consequently, I beckon on the good people of Bayelsa and by extension, the Niger Delta to support the ‘Zero Tolerance Campaign’ of the JTF Commander, Maj.-Gen Emmanuel Atewe against oil theft and illegalities. We also solicit timely information from the people to enable the task force track miscreants in the Niger Delta region.”