Twenty four of the suspects were arrested in Delta State.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta said on Thursday that it has apprehended a gang of suspected oil thieves and pirates along the waterways in Rivers State.
The JTF Media Coordinator, Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement issued in Yenagoa, said the sea robbers were captured during a multiple anti-oil theft patrol operation carried out by the task force.
He said that the operation, which cut across the JTF’s area of responsibilities in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states, was carried out
between October 21 and 30.
According to the JTF spokesman, the oil thieves were arrested onboard a dual engine speed boat along the waterways of Twene community in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers.
“Our troops of 130 Battalion in the Sector 2 of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, have arrested 3 Sea robbers armed with three AK 47 rifles and 177 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.
“The sea robbers were on board a double 75horse power speed boat along the waterways of Twene near Torah Community in Ikwere Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“They were arrested at about 10 pm, while prowling the waterways for opportunity targets,” he said.
Mr. Nwachukwu, a Lieutenant Colonel, said the JTF patrol troops also arrested six suspected oil thieves at ‘oil well head 26’, located at Ekuluma II when they were siphoning crude oil from the well.
He further disclosed that in Delta State, troops of 3 and 19 Battalions of the JTF covering the Delta State stretch of Sector 1 arrested 24 suspects for illegal oil bunkering activities.
He said the arrest was made during recent anti-oil theft patrols at Mosagor, Sapele road, Egwu 1, Opumami, Asiagbere Creek in Gbekebor, Okufoma and Okwuagbede communities in Delta state.
“The patrol troops also scuttled 7 illegal crude oil distillation sites and 17 Cotonou boats.
“Also destroyed were 16 steel reservoirs, 29 large plastic reservoirs and 3 welding machines used by the oil thieves for their illicit operation,” Mr. Nwachukwu said.
The JTF spokesman also revealed that in Bayelsa state, troops of 343 Regiment and 5 Battalion of Sector 2 of the JTF, arrested 10 suspected pipeline vandals.
The arrest, he said, was effected when the troops were patrolling the water ways of Bolbo, Opigni and Mansonkiri in Brass Local Government Area of the state.
According to him, the suspected vandals were arrested when they were attempting to hack into AGIP pipeline in Nembe town.
Mr. Nwachukwu said that the troops also destroyed 18 illegal oil distillation sites and 9 boats conveying stolen crude oil.
“During the anti-oil theft operations, 40 suspects were arrested for oil theft related offences. They are currently undergoing preliminary investigations under the JTF command”, he said.
The spokesman said after investigation, the suspects would be handed over to relevant agencies for prosecution.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...