16 September 2013, Yenagoa — Five Nigerians and a foreigner from Republic of Benin, alleged to be specialists in sourcing for illegally distilled petroleum products in the Niger Delta area, have been nabbed by operatives of the Joint Task Force. JTF, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield.
Fifteen other illegal oil bunkerers were also caught in separate operations.
Spokesman of JTF, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, yesterday, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said the suspects were apprehended by men of the 3 Battalion of the task force during a patrol in Opodibobo creek near Escravos in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
The cartel, according to Lt. Col Nwachukwu, was smashed during one of the anti-oil theft operations carried out by the battalion.
He said one big Cotonou boat, containing 11 large plastic reservoirs and a speed boat were recovered from the suspects.
He said: “The suspects are currently undergoing preliminary investigations to uncover their links and other collaborators in the illicit trade.”
Nwachukwu also disclosed that in another operation, seven suspects operating illegal oil distillation sites were arrested by troops of 3 and 19 Battalions covering the Sector 1 area of responsibility of JTF.
Area of operations
He said: “During the operation, the troops scuttled 16 illegal oil distillation camps and 21 Cotonou boats in Tukula, Gbaramatu Kingdom, Odi II, Asugba, Beneth Island, Ekekudo, Escravos, Egwa, Egbeokute and Opodiboba in Warri South West, Warri South and Okpe local government areas.
“Also scuttled were seven illegal distillation sites in Moboko, Irhado, Agbekudo, Obodo Camp, Ajeosoho, Sapele Waterside and Omere in Ethiope West, Okpe and Sapele local government areas.
“The troops also scuttled 503 steel tanks, 22 cooking ovens, 44 plastic tanks, 16 large surface tanks, 12 dug-out pits, 329 drums and 13 pumping machines during the operation.”
In Bayelsa State, he said operatives of 343 Artillery Regiment and Gun Boat Company, covering the Sector 2 area of responsibility of the Joint Task, also arrested eight suspects for indulging in illegal oil bunkering activities.