The Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, said it has arrested five suspected sea pirates and two pipeline vandals in Bayelsa and Delta states respectively.
The spokesperson of the JTF, Isa Ado, made the disclosure on Sunday in Yenagoa.
He told journalists that the arrests were effected on July 20 and July 23.
He added that “on July 20, JTF troops conducted cordon and search operations at Lagosgbene community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa and arrested five suspected sea pirates.
“Items recovered include one AK 47 riffle, a pump action gun, three magazines with 72 rounds of 7.62 special ammunition, a pair of military camouflage, a Samsung smart phone, 115 Horse Power outboard engine, among others.”
The spokesman explained that the suspects were currently in JTF custody and were being interrogated and would be handed over to prosecuting agency after preliminary investigations.
Mr. Ado, a lieutenant colonel, also said JTF operatives from 222 Battalion at Ughelli Delta arrested two suspected pipeline vandals on July 23 who allegedly blew up a 16-inch pipeline at Irene in Delta.
He added that preliminary investigations showed that the suspects confessed to have vandalised the pipeline operated by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC.
He said the two suspects claimed that they were engaged by a prospective surveillance contractor to compel NPDC to award the pipeline protection job to the said contractor.
The spokesman said “the suspects confessed that they were sent by a contractor from Orogun community to carry out the act in order to secure contract job for its repairs from NPDC.
“The act, according to them, will force NPDC to give out the surveillance contract to one Mr Moris Idiovwa.
“The suspects further confessed that they hatched the plan with others, now at large, at a hotel in Ugheli and perfected plans to embark on destruction and cutting of oil pipelines.’’
Ado appealed to residents of the Niger Delta region to support the JTF commander’s zero tolerance campaign against oil theft and sundry illegalities by providing timely information to curb crime.