Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Troops of Operation Delta Safe have liberated 15 kidnapped victims from pirates in Nembe, Bayelsa State and uncovered 48 illegal refineries in Rivers and Delta states.
A naval patrol team also recovered 1.5 million litres of stolen crude oil in another operation.
The troops were said to have encountered the pirates, while on a routine patrol on Nembe Owelese in Bayelsa State.
A military statement issued yesterday said the pirates on sighting the troop’s gunboats escaped into the creeks, while 15 persons held hostage in five-speed boats by the kidnappers were rescued.
Similarly, acting on a tip-off, the Nigerian Navy Ship, Pathfinder, patrol team intercepted and arrested three barges – MV Rock 1, Julianah and an unnamed barge laden with illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) at AGIP Waterfront for suspected involvement in illegal bunkering activities.
An update on military operations in the Niger Delta region issued by the Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO) said the team also arrested another barge laden with suspected stolen crude oil around Okochiri River entrance.
In another operation, troops of Sector 3, Operation Delta Safe, raided four illegal refining sites along Dema Abby – Oputumbi – Nanabie – Promise Land – Otobie and Ogono general area.
“Items discovered and appropriately handled, include seven boilers, nine storage tanks, eight metal tanks, one dugout reservoir all filled with stolen crude oil.
“Others are eight metal tanks, 18 metal drums, 11 reservoir tanks filled with illegally refined AGO and Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK). Also, two empty Cotonou boats, one generator set, one pumping machine, two welding machines, one filing machine, rolls of hose, and one speedboat mounted with 75 HP engine (use for illegal bunkering activities) were also discovered within the site,” it said.
The statement signed by DDMO Coordinator, Major General John Enenche, said troops of Sector 3 on patrol also intercepted a barge laden with suspected illegally refined AGO around Orutoru general area of Rivers State.
It said following intelligence report, troops of Headquarters Operation Delta Safe discovered and appropriately handled an illegal refining site at Uzere community at Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, while troops of Sector 2 Operation deployed along KCTL pipeline at Odau Community in Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State arrested three suspected pipeline vandals around Shell Petroleum Development Company pipeline.
“Overall, a total of three weapons were recovered, 48 illegal refineries, 28 surface metal storage tanks, 60 cooking ovens and 18 Cotonou boats amongst others were discovered, while about 58,500 litres of DPK, 11,750 liters of PMS, 855,900 litres of AGO and an estimated 1,507,000 litres of crude oil were seized by troops,” it added.