31 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Restore Hope have impounded yet another vessel carrying over 5000 tons of illegally refined diesel on the Akassa waterways of Bayelsa State with a promise to take the fight to the sponsors of the illegal oil refining business.
Also arrested alongside the impounded vessel, MT ZIA with International Maritime Organisation registration number 5418381 was its two man crew identified as Douglas Polo Inomo and Abiona Olusola.
The latest haul is coming on the heels of penultimate week arrest of 46 suspected crude oil thieves and seizure of a vessel allegedly involved in the illicit oil business as well as 13 Cotonou boats conveying illegally refined diesel along the same Akassa river in the Brass council area of the state.
The Media Coordinator of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Lt Col. Timothy Antigha who disclosed this in Yenagoa said the vessel was impounded last Friday along the Akassa river in the Brass local government area of Bayelsa State.
Lt. Col Antigha said, about 5000 tons of illegally refined diesel, 4 Geepee storage tanks with capacity of 7500 litres each, 3 drums containing 250 litres of illegal diesel each, 6 electric pumping machines and several hoses were found in the impounded vessel.
His words, “in an ongoing effort to dislodge illegal refinery operators and crude oil thieves in the Niger Delta region, operators of the Joint Task force (OPERATION RESTORE HOPE) on Friday 28 October 2011, impounded another vessel engaged in the lifting of illegally refined petroleum products along Akasa River in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
“The vessel named MT ZIA, with International Maritime Organization Number 5418381, was arrested with a crew of 2, namely; Douglas Polo Inomo and Abiona Olusola. Also found on the vessel was about 5000 tons of illegally refined diesel, 4 Geepee storage tanks with capacity of 7500 litres each, 3 drums containing 250 litres of illegal diesel each, 6 electric pumping machines and several hoses.
“You would recall that barely one week ago, the JTF impounded a vessel, MV Omiesam, 46 suspects and 13 Cotonu boats conveying illegally refined diesel along the same River Akasa.”
Sector 1 of the JTF, he further explained had in the last one month impounded 4 AK 47 assault rifles, 203 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 11 Dynamites, 1 Barge with stolen crude oil and 1 wooden boat with illegally refined diesel.
“Along with these items, the Sector arrested 7 suspects who will be handed over to the Police after preliminary investigation into their involvement in acts of economic sabotage in the Niger Delta region,” he said.
On the security outfit operations on Rivers State he said, “the JTF in an-ongoing operation in Sector 3 (Rivers State) have so far impounded 30 barges containing various quantities of stolen crude oil and illegally refined petroleum products.
“The confiscated barges have been destroyed on the spot by a detachment of Nigeria Police Bomb Squad, who are part of the on-going operation. No arrest has been made so far.
“The JTF have discovered that there is a booming trade in the stolen crude oil and illegally refined petroleum products along Imo River, which recently caused a multi-national oil company to suspend production in the area.
“In the light of the foregoing, the JTF wishes to advice patrons of pipeline vandalism, illegal refineries and bunkering to take up legitimate and environment friendly vocations, as the JTF is not considering scaling down the on-going operations.
“The JTF also wishes to add that these operations will be taken to unexpected quarters in a bid to nab the sponsors of the illegal business, and put a stop to it finally.”