By Sylvester Idowu
Operatives of Sector One of the Joint
Task Force code-named Operation Delta State, Effurun, Delta State, on Thursday busted an illegal oil bunkering syndicate and seized 310,000 litres of illegally refined diesel estimated at over N52.5 million.
Twelve suspects were arrested in connection with the dastardly act while seven tankers loaded with the products were also impounded by the soldiers of the sector.
Commander, Sector One of the JTF, Colonel Alhassan Mohammed, made the disclosure while handing over the suspects and the seized tankers to officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at the Sector’s headquarters for further investigations and prosecution.
He said since the Operation Delta Safe was reactivated his men had been working silently bursting the activities of illegal oil bunkerers burning down their illegal refineries in the swamps and creeks of its Area Of Responsibilities (AOR).
Colonel Mohammed disclosed that the suspects were arrested in different locations with the stolen petroleum products and promised to frustrate the operations of criminals in the waterways, creeks and on land.
“Since the activation of Operation Delta Safe, we have been quite busy. We have effected several arrests and seizures and we will continue to do that until the criminals have a change of heart and embrace legitimate ventures”, he said.
Apart from the tankers, the Army Chief disclosed that one truck, one bus and a Golf car were recovered from the suspects.
“Some were arrested in Koko, some in Warri and Ughelli. We also arrested several Cotonou boats but those ones were destroyed instantly. The arrests and seizures were made within one month“, he said.
Speaking on whether the suspects were militants, he retorted “That’s a possibility. It can not be ruled out because proceeds from illegal bunkering will definitely be used to procure arms and other gadgets in perpetrating criminal activities”.
Receiving the suspects and tankers, Deputy Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp, Delta State Command, Chinwu Austine commended the synergy between his Corp and the military in the state.
“This is partnership in progress. This partnership is productive and we hope to sustain in to rid Nigeria of such criminals”, Austine, who is also a member of the JTF component assured.