YENAGOA — Operatives of the Joint Task Force in Niger Delta code-named Operation Pulo Shield have arrested three suspected sea pirates with large cache of ammunition along Twene waterways near Torah community in Ikwere Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Also, 40 suspected crude oil thieves were nabbed in separate operations in the creeks of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States.
Media Coordinator of the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col Onyema Nwachukwu, yesterday, in Yenagoa said the sea pirates were nabbed by troops of 130 battalion in the Sector 2 area of responsibility of the JTF.
According to him, the hoodlums were arrested armed with three AK47 rifles and 177 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition on board double 7-horse power speed boat.
Lt Col Nwachukwu who said the sea pirates were intercepted at about 10pm while prowling Twene waterways near Torah community for opportunity targets added that the troops also arrested 6 suspected crude oil thieves at Oil Well Head 26 located at Ekuluma II while siphoning crude oil from the oil well.
Troops of 3 and 19 battalions covering the Delta State stretch of Sector 1 area of responsibility of the Joint Task Force, according to Lt Col Nwachukwu also nabbed 24 suspects for illegal oil bunkering activities during anti-oil theft patrols at Mosagor Sapele Road, Egwu 1, Opumami, Asiagbere Creek in Gbekebor, Okufoma and Okwuagbede Communities in Ethiope West, Warri South, Warri North and Okpe Local Government Areas of Delta State.
“The patrol troops also scuttled 7 illegal crude oil distillation sites and 17 Cotonou boats, 16 steel reservoirs, 29 large plastic reservoirs and 3 welding machines used by the oil thieves for their illicit operation,” he said.
In a similar operation in Bayelsa State, he said, troops of 343 Regiment and 5 Battalion of Sector 2 of the JTF patrolling the water ways of Bolbo, Opigni and Mansonkiri in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State also arrested 10 suspected pipeline vandals while attempting to hack into AGIP pipeline in Nembe.
“The suspects were operating with a pumping machine, 15 angle iron, 5 metal pipes and other assorted pipeline vandalism equipment.
“The troops further scuttled 18 illegal oil distillation sites and 9 Cotonou boats conveying illegally stolen crude oil.
“During the anti oil theft operations, 40 suspects were arrested for oil theft related offences and are currently undergoing preliminary investigations before they will be handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies,” he said.