Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Soldiers attached to the Joint Military Task Force deployed in the Niger Delta to protect oil facilities said they killed a suspected militant in a gun duel and arrested several oil theft suspects yesterday.
A statement issued by Lt.-Cdr. Thomas Otuji, spokesman of ‘Operation Delta Safe,’ ODS, which was made available in Yenagoa, Bayelsa said the incident occurred during one of several operations it carried out across the Niger Delta region.
“In fulfillment of its mandate to rid the Niger Delta from all forms of criminality, troops deployed at various sectors have intensified special operations to saturate the creeks and environments of Joint Operation Area.
“Troops of ODS, Sector 2, Bayelsa State, received information of a hideout of armed bandits in Ibematoro Community.
Troops arrived the enclave and engaged them in a gun battle. One criminal was killed and 2 suspects arrested.
“Items recovered include, 1 x AK 47 rifle and a magazine loaded with 20 rounds of 7.62 millimetre special ammunition”, Otuji, the Deputy Spokesman of the JTF in the region noted.
Also, the JTF stated that following a distress call received by troops in Bayelsa, indicating that sea pirates were terrorising innocent citizens at Ogubene Creeks, troops deployed to Kulama oil rig trailed the pirates to the location.
“The pirates fled on sighting gunboats from a distance. The troops, however, rescued one Mr. Dokubo Charles who said pirates absconded with his 25 Horse Power engine mounted on a wooden boat. The pirates are being trailed for possible apprehension,” Otuji said.
He added that troops deployed in Southern Akwa Ibom also received distress calls from the public of illegalities along Quo Iboe Terminal Jetty waterside in Ibeno community and cordoned off the area up to Oron waterside where they encountered suspected oil thieves engaged in illegal refining activities.
“Some of the criminals absconded on sighting our troops; however, 13 oil thieves were apprehended,” he noted
The JTF spokesman said the suspects were in the custody of the navy and that further investigation was ongoing.
He said the troops also discovered and seized two large metal barges at Adokiri around Okrika axis used by oil thieves.
The barges, Otuji said, contained about 500,000 litres of petroleum products suspected to be crude oil.
He noted that while on surveillance patrol of Chevron pipeline at Sagbama Creek, the troops discovered an illegal pipeline buried underground by suspected vandals.
Items recovered from the suspected oil thieves include: three wooden Cotonou boats, 180 units of 200 litres capacity drums filled with illegally refined petroleum products and one locally made pistol.