24 May 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Joint Military Task Force, JTF, operating in the Niger Delta with the codename Operation Delta Safe, OPDS, says it has destroyed a total of 1,437 illegal refineries in the region since January 2017.
Acting Director, Defence Information, Defence Headquarters Abuja, Brigadier General John Agim, said OPDS has also destroyed 3,872 surface tanks, 191 barges and 13,129 drums used for oil theft and associated crimes.
Agim, who disclosed this in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital, said the introduction of the use of swamp buggy in the JTF’s anti-illegal refining operations has significantly degraded the capacity of illegal refinery operators to revamp destroyed illegal refineries.
He warned perpetrators to desist from indulging in illegal refining and bunkering of crude products as it has huge implication in undermining and destroying the ecosystem.
“Suffice to state that part of the Force’s efforts to deny criminals any freedom of action, involves the destruction of their safe havens and the items used in perpetrating illegalities. The Force has in this process destroyed 1,437 illegal refineries, 795 wooden cargo boats (also known as Cotonou boats), 3,872 metal surface tanks and 1,019 plastic tanks. Also, 13,129 drums and13,343 Jerry cans have been destroyed.
“In order to continually degrade the capacity of criminals involved in crude oil theft and its associated crimes, the Force routinely seizes and impounds items used to facilitate such economic crimes. From 1 Jan 2017 till date, the Force had seized and impounded 24 vessels, 191 barges, 234 outboard engines and 476 other types of passenger boats.
“Additionally, the Force has seized 105 tanker trucks, 228 other vehicles and 610 pumping machines as well as 76 generator sets and 5,842 other items being used in facilitating illegalities in the region.
Agim stated that since the activation of Operation Delta Safe in the region, a total of 1,846 persons involved in diverse acts of criminality have been arrested, while a large percentage of the suspects have been transferred to prosecuting agencies accordingly.
He further disclosed that the Force has achieved tremendous success in the area of civil-military relations, explaining that a number of community relations activities including the renovation of Oloibiri oil well, were undertaken to touch base with the operating environment.
He added: “The Land Component of OPDS has undertaken a complete renovation of the famous Oloibiri Oil Well 1, the first commercial oil well discovered in Nigeria at Otuabagi in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It was done basically to add tourist value to the iconic site.
“The site was signposted and this has not only attracted tourists to the iconic oil well but enhanced greatly the profile of the site as the mother of all commercial oil wells in Nigeria.
“Additionally, a number of medical outreaches were conducted in the JOA with huge success. Medical items were donated to the maternity and pediatric wards of the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, with Medical Outreaches conducted at Azagbene and Obuama towns where troops of OPDS are deployed.”