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JTF arrests two vessels, nabs 26 oil thieves

By The Rainbow

The Joint (Military) Task Force in the Niger Delta, code named Operation Pulo Shield, has arrested two bunkering vessels and arrested 26 suspected oil thieves, including a Ghanaian, in the region, JTF spokesman, Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, announced on Sunday.

Nwachukwu said the arrest followed a week-long operations in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Edo states.

Nwachukwu said troops of 343 Artillery Regiment deployed in the Bayelsa State's creeks, uncovered a hose illegally connected from Nigerian Agip Oil Company's pipeline to an illegal oil dump.

He said the oil dump was serving an illegal oil distillation camp containing 15 large storage tanks at Oyeregbene community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

Nwachukwu urged the multinational oil company in Brass to carry out repairs on the breached point.

He added that the vessel, christened MILANDROS, was intercepted around the West Bank of Bonny anchorage, where a six- inch diameter hose over a distance of 1,000 metres from the vessel had been connected to the pipeline.

He said the tanker vessel, christened EBBA, belonging to PWS Integrated Service Limited, was arrested along Bonny anchorage with eight crew members on board.

He said the vessel was laden with 282 tonnes of suspected illegally distilled diesel and was operating in the waterways without relevant registration documents

The JTF spokesman said operatives of 146 Battalion anti-oil-theft patrol team, covering the Bonny area of Sector 2,  under the Command of Lt.-Col. Lander Saraso, arrested 12 crew members, made up of 11 Nigerians and a Ghanaian on board a vessel for illegal oil bunkering.

Nwachukwu said, 'At the time of the arrest, the vessel, which was registered to sail under flagship of Sierra Leone, was flying a Nigerian flag to deceive security operatives. It was anchored along the West Bank of Bonny where a six-inch diameter hose over a distance of 1,000 metres from the vessel had been connected to pipeline.

'Efforts are ongoing to track down the lead agent, Mr. Tumini Brown, who absconded from the Island on hearing the news of the arrest of the vessel.

'Also, in Rivers, troops of 130 Battalion, in a dawn raid,  sacked a sea pirate stronghold in Orlukiri, near Abissa community of Degema Local Government Area.

'The troops overran the pirates' camp after a stiff resistance and captured one general purpose machine gun; one AK 47 rifle; 615 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, two AK 47 magazines and a bunch of disintegrated GPMG links which were abandoned by the criminals.'