Yenagoa - The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, said on Sunday that it had impounded a vessel and arrested 21 suspects in its fight against oil theft in the region.
JTF’s spokesman Lt.Col. Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement that the task force also seized two barges used by oil thieves in an operation between May 17 and May 24.
The statement issued in Yenagoa said JTF personnel seized a vessel, MV ERISHNA DOLPHIN, along Obi Creek in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
The vessel will be secured at the Brass River Terminal within Bayelsa waterways.
Also 11 oil theft suspects operating two barges laden with 7,500 and 500 000 litres respectivey of suspected stolen crude oil were arrested at Bakana Creek and Abonema Waterfront in Rivers by troops of 146 Battalion of JTF, Sector 2.
"The barges, which are now secured at Abonema Wharf, were intercepted during one of the anti-oil theft patrols carried out by Gun Boat troops of the Battalion.
"The suspects have been taken into custody by Headquarters Sector 2 to help in preliminary investigations after which they will be handed over to an appropriate agency for prosecution.
"In similar anti-illegal oil bunkering and anti-pipeline vandalism operations, a total of 21 illegal oil distilleries and 41 pumping machines have been scuttled in Ondo, Edo and Delta states.
"Fifteen of the illegal distilleries were discovered along Takula Creek and Itakpe at the boundary between Ondo and Delta states where 40 steel surface tanks and 25 pumping machines used in the illegal trade were scuttled in Situ" the statement read in part.
Nwachukwu further said that several equipment and facilities used by the oil thieves were destroyed within their operational locations in the Niger Delta during the raids .