JTF rescues Indians, arrests 17 oil theft suspects in Niger Delta

JTF05 February 2014, Lagos – Three Indian nationals were yesterday rescued in Abissa, a small fishing port in Akuku’ Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State by a combined squad from the 130 Battalion of the Joint Task Force (JTF), the Nigerian Navy and the State Security Service (SSS).

And in a related development, troops from the 3, 19 and 195 Battalions of Sector One anti-illegal oil bunkering squads of the JTF have uncovered 12 illegal oil distillation camps at Agbede Forest, Obi-Ayagha and Otegele communities in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, Ughelli South and Warri South West Local Government Areas of Delta State.

The Indians, Messrs Kanishk Johrar, Mohinder Saini and Balwinder Singh, were abducted about a month ago on board a fishing trawler at Malabo and brought into the shores of Nigerian waters by the gang, which demanded $1million as ransom.

The JTF, in a statement by the Media Coordinator, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the squad tracked the abductors to their hide out at Abissa, arresting five suspects while others were still on the run.

In a separate development, troops, of the JTF clamp down on the illegal bunkerers and uncovered 28 Cotonu boats, 24 underground storage tanks containing about 70,000 litres of illegally distilled diesel, 547 steel drums, five surface tanks, 22 plastic tanks all filled with suspected illegally refined diesel.

The JTF statement disclosed that other items discovered included five speed boats loaded with 150 drums of illegally refined AGO, 47 fabricated steel pots and 37 ovens used for cooking illegally sourced crude oil. Ten suspects nabbed during the operation were currently at the headquarters for further investigations.

Seven other suspects were also arrested by the troops for pipeline vandalism and oil-related crimes.  Four of the suspects were apprehended for vandalising a pipeline belonging to the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) at Okuejeba, while three others were arrested along Chanomi Creek in Warri South-west for indulging in acts of pipeline vandalism in the area.

The suspects are in the custody of 3 and 19 Battalions for preliminary investigations before they will be handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agencies.

In similar operations, troops of 29 Battalion and 343 Regiment of Sector Two anti-oil theft squads of the JTF conducting pipeline patrols along Brass-Tebidada Agip pipeline have scuttled illegal oil distillation camps along Alakari general area and Lasukugbene community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
In the 10 days anti-illegal oil bunkering operations, the troops employed swamp boogies to destroy emerging illegal oil refineries, scuttling 29 illegal oil bunkering cooking points, and surface tanks situated near a Well Head “Alake 008” at Alakiri general area.
The troops also discovered and scuttled one wooden boat, six illegal crude oil dumps and 20 metal drums containing illegally refined diesel.

During the anti-oil theft operations, 17 suspects were arrested for oil theft related offences and are currently undergoing preliminary investigations before they would be handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies for prosecution.

– This Day

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