24 October 2012, Sweetcrude, PORT HARCOURT – THE Joint Task Force, JTF, operating in the Niger Delta said it arrested two suspected vessels, with one carrying 60, 000 metric tonnes of diesel worth N11 billion off the coast of Bonny Island in Rivers State.
Brig.-Gen.Tukur Buratai, Commander of the 2 Brigade and Sector Two of the Joint Task Force, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Port Harcourt.
Burai said the Lagos-registered vessels, Lady Theresa and Pecos Peters, had been arrested on October 17 and 18 in the Bonny area, respectively.
It was gathered that the Lady Theresa vessel contained 60,000 metric tonnes of diesel which was estimated by one of its crew members to have a street value of N11.294 billion.
The crew member, who pleaded anonymity, said that the value for diesel fuel and diesel oil was not stable as it could vary based on density and temperature.
However, the JTF commander disclosed that investigations were ongoing.
Buratai, who was represented by Col. Gold Chibuisi, said that all the 16 crew members in the two vessels were Nigerians.
“This badge (Lady Theresa) was arrested transferring substance suspected to be illegally refined diesel.
“The JTF has initiated appropriate measures to ensure that anyone involved in encouraging oil theft is arrested and made to account for their actions.
“The market that encourages the stealing of crude and refining them illegally must also be stopped and when buyers are reduced, obviously, the urge and reason to steal would reduce.
“Those who take part in oil theft and illegal refining of crude oil to produce adulterated and substandard fuel should desist because in doing so; they will be helping the fight against oil theft.”
Buratai called on the public to report anyone involved in oil theft and illegal refining of crude oil to security agencies in the state.
Capt. Christian Okupe, who led soldiers during the operation, said the vessels were arrested because they did not have permit to transport petroleum products.
“This particular ship was arrested behind Light House; they claimed they anchored there for a purpose; they were not with a permit.
“Light-House is a famous place, and we have been told that, that’s where they (illegal marketers) anchore and probably at night move to wherever they are going for their illegal act,” he further stated.