19 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The Joint Task Force code named ‘Operation Pulo Shield’ has placed foreigner oil workers in the Niger Delta region under surveillance over their alleged involvement in the crude oil theft in the region.
Commander of the Joint Task Force, Major General Johnson Ochoga, said out of the total number of 1,945 suspects arrested and 18 vessels seized in the region for alleged oil theft, thirty-eight of the suspects were from Ghana, India, Lebanon and other countries of Asia and Europe.
Ochoga told newsmen in Yenagoa that “the arrest of 21 Ghanaians and their five Nigerian collaborators as well as the destruction of two vessels containing 1300 tonnes of crude oil is an indicator that there is a noticeable involvement of foreigners in illegal bunkering in the region.
“Another instance is the recent arrest of 10 suspects of India nationality and Four Nigerian on board MT ASHKAY.
“This as brought to the fore the need to monitor foreigners more closely in the region which is a primary responsibility of the Nigerian Immigration Service and further underscore the importance of the multi agency nature of the JTF.”
The JTF noted that out of the 7,585 anti-illegal bunkering patrols conducted by the Joint Task Force in the last 12 months, 133 barges, 1,215 Cotonou boats, 187 tanker trucks, 178 illegal fuel dumps and 5, surface tanks were destroyed.
Also destroyed were 36,504 drums of illegally refined products,638 pumping machines and 326 outboard engines.
He however expressed sadness over the loss of over nine soldiers during the security operations in the region,”aside from the loss, it was discovered that several individuals in the host communities were either actively involved in the illegal business or are collaborators with oil thieves. This discovery prompted the outfit to organize advocacy programme in which involved sensitization visits to several communities”.