March 16, 2012 – Over 300 oil thieves were arrested in the Niger Delta in the last two months, the Joint Military Task Force said on Thursday.
Spokesman for the JTF, Lt Col. Timothy Antigha told THE PUNCH in Warri, Delta State that the suspects were picked up in states across the Niger Delta.
He said the success recorded in its battle against illegal bunkering and refining was due to the recent refocusing of the JTF.
The task force comprises the Navy, Army, Air Force, State Security Service, Police, National Civil Defence Corps and other paramilitary organisations.
Antigha said the JTF also succeeded in destroying thousands of illegal refineries, and seizing generators, pumping machines, outboard engines, pumping valves and speed boats from suspected criminals when the task force raided parts of the area.
He added that the recent arrest of those suspected to have killed some soldiers in Bayelsa was a warning that criminal activities in the area would not be tolerated.
Meanwhile, the JTF has destroyed no fewer than 200 illegal refineries in Rivers and Bayelsa states.
Commander, Sector Two of the task force, Brig-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said in Port Harcourt on Thursday that the destruction of illegal refineries and the arrest of oil thieves were carried out last year.
He said, “We have impounded a number of trailers, tankers and trucks used in perpetrating these nefarious activities. We have appropriately treated, processed the matter for prosecution.”
Buratai said surveillance had been intensified within the two states, adding that the JTF was not relenting in combating pirates threatening the peace of the coastal areas(punch).