Yenagoa - The Military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta says it has arrested 52 suspects and impounded two motorized vessels involved in illegal oil bunkering in two different locations in the region.
The Media Coordinator of the JTF, Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, made this known to newsmen in Yenagoa on Tuesday.
Nwachukwu said that the raids were carried out between Jan.19 and Feb.8, adding that the suspects arrested for various oil related crimes were currently undergoing preliminary investigations.
He said the raid on the suspected oil thieves took place on the Akassa water ways in Otokolomobio community in Bayelsa and Bonny Island in Rivers.
Nwachukwu said that men of the task force swooped on the oil thieves and impounded two vessels and two barges used for carrying out illegal oil bunkering activities in the region.
"The vessels currently berthing in NPA Jetty Bonny Island, Rivers, include MT SOPHIA and MT EVEREST 1.
``A similar raid was also carried out along Ughoton River in Okpe and Saghara pipeline Inlet Channel in Warri South.
"During the operation in Warri South, 23 illegal oil refineries were destroyed. The JTF also arrested five wooden barges conveying stolen petroleum products.‘’
``The boats were arrested along Ugbokoto community in Warri South West Council Area of Delta state."
Nwachukwu said that the JTF operatives also arrested illegal oil bunkering barges at Obi Creek, Ikomogbemi, Otua, Tebidaba and Akassa communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government of Bayelsa.
The media coordinator also said that within the period, four JTF soldiers on escort duty on board Sterling Global Oil were attacked in an ambush by suspected sea robbers on Feb.5.
"Two JTF operatives were killed during the cross fire that ensued the operation while another two sustained injuries.
The JTF is presently carrying out search of the suspected hideouts to fish out the perpetrators," Nwachukwu said.