We're winning the war against crude oil theft -JTF

By The Citizen

The Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo Shield has declared that it is winning the war against crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region. The Commander of the JTF, Major General Bata Debiro, who stated this while reviewing the activities of the security outfit in 2013 said the JTF has been able to secure the Niger Delta region. According to him, the JTF successfully conducted several land, maritime and air operations against illegal oil bunkering and refining activities, pipeline vandalism, armed banditry and sea robbery. He said the task force also conducted anti-kidnapping operations and destruction of re-emerging militant camps in the region. Debiro disclosed that the JTF  conducted a total of 1,025 anti-illegal oil bunkering patrols, while over 1,951 illegal refineries were destroyed. He added that 81 barges, 1,117 Cotonou boats, 82 tanker trucks, 1,873 surface tanks and 1,857 suspects were arrested in connection with crude oil theft. Debiro explained that the activities of the JTF has encouraged the re-opening of some pipelines which had been closed due to the activities of oil thieves. He said: 'The JTF provided full security on Port- Harcourt- Aba pipeline which has succeeded in reducing the incident of vandalism on that axis. The JTF operations therefore, enabled the PPMC to re-open the Port- Harcourt- Aba pipeline, which had been closed down for years. Similarly the presence of the JTF had encouraged the PPMC to consider the re-opening of the Aba- Enugu pipeline to be extended later from Enugu to Makurdi. The JTF has in addition to physical protection of the oil facilities intensified patrols of the pipelines in order to forestall acts of pipeline vandalism.' Debiro noted that the JTF, through its ground trotting patrols has been able to checkmate the activities of vandals along the Nembe Creek Trunk  Line ( NCTL) pipeline, which was hitherto the most vandalised pipeline in the Niger Delta region. He also said the JTF has been able to arrest armed robbers and kidnappers tormenting the people of the region in deadly operations. 'The JTF operations against armed robbery, piracy and other forms of organised crimes had also yielded positive results. Over 42 armed robbers were killed and 183 were arrested, while over 40 sea-pirates were also killed and 41 were arrested and assorted arms and ammunition recovered from them.

Although kidnapping seems to be on the rise recently in the region and the country in general , perhaps due to the pecuniary gains from its ransom, the JTF operations have been recording successes in its operations against the menace. The successes recorded were as a result of coordinated efforts between the JTF and other security agencies. Overall over 23 kidnappers were killed while 236 were arrested and assorted arms and ammunition recovered from them,' Debiro stated.

He noted that his men have been deployed to all nooks and crannies of the 23 local government areas of the state and are doing well especially in the area of intelligence gathering which has helped in no small measure in forestalling unnecessary security threats. Also, the state NSCDC boss posited that the command had sent packing over 20 illegal security outfits operating without license in the state even as it had continued to e suture that those who are operating have the right gadgets and uniforms. 'Over 20 security outfits who are operating illegally in the state have been sent packing. Also, we have it as a law that each security outfit must wear conformed uniform so that they don't dress like other security outfits. We also monitor them to ensure that their offices have the right gadgets to operate.' Lar who listed some of the command's challenges to included mobility and accessibility of hard to reach areas also regretted that some communities sometimes tend to harbour vandals in their locality. He advised people of the state to be aware of their environment and report any suspicious objects of strange faces to security agencies especially as the Yuletide season draws near.