BY SAMUEL OYADONGHA
YENAGOA ‚Äî Operatives of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, code named,¬†Operation Pulo Shield, have nabbed a vessel laden with 2,500 metric tonnes of petroleum products allegedly stolen along Okuboto creek in Bayelsa State.
The Joint Task Force Media Coordinator, Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement in Yenagoa said the sea-going vessel christened¬†Sea Express¬†was on the verge of loading its fourth compartments when it was intercepted by a team of operatives from Sector 2 Command of the JTF.
He said: ‚ÄúThe suspects and the vessel are in custody of headquarters Sector 2 for preliminary investigations before handing over to a prosecuting agency.‚Äù
Nwachukwu also disclosed that a barge christened,¬†MONOVO-2,involved in oil theft activities along Golubo creek of Bayelsa had been impounded while conveying stolen petroleum product.
He said the crew on board the barge abandoned it and fled into the mangrove forest on sighting operatives of the JTF.
He said: ‚ÄúThe barge has been towed to AGIP Brass Terminal for safe custody while preliminary investigation is ongoing to unmask the owners of the vessel.
‚ÄúIn another anti oil theft raid operation in Delta State by troops of the JTF, 30 open boats conveying illegally refined petroleum products were intercepted along Aruton and Ugborodo communities in Delta State.
‚ÄúThe boats were arrested while loaded with plastic tanks filled with stolen petroleum products. The operatives also recovered other items including 11 hand gloves, one packet of electrode, a bunch of clips and two pumping machines.
‚ÄúEight illegal crude oil distillery camps were also scuttled along Oboro, Kpukpugbene in Burutu and Sagara, near Escravos in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
‚ÄúA total of nine steel tanks and 187 large plastic reservoirs used by the oil thieves to perpetrate the crime at the camp sites were scuttled by the troops in line with the mandate of the task force.
‚ÄúDuring the entire operation that lasted from April 7 to 14, 2013, 21 suspects were arrested at the various crime locations.¬† The suspects are currently undergoing preliminary investigations in various sectors of the Joint Task Force and will subsequently be handed over to prosecuting agencies.‚Äù