The Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, yesterday, said it had seized a vessel laden with 1,000 litres of suspected stolen crude oil.
According to a statement by Lt.-Col Mustapha Anka, Media Coordinator of the JTF in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the crew members of the vessel are being interrogated.
The 25,000 tonne capacity vessel, named MV Flora, and eight crew were intercepted by JTF’s Gun Boat Company along Lagosgbene Obi creek in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The media coordinator said that the new Commander of JTF, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atawe, who assumed duties on March 8, has intensified the war against oil theft.
“Since Maj.-Gen. Atawe took over of Command of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, seven vessels and barges have been intercepted and arrested for illegal oil bunkering activities.
“Also, 85 illegal distillery camps were destroyed while 196 suspects were arrested, and are presently at various stages of prosecution by the prosecuting agencies,” Anka stated.
He said also that a patrol team of the JTF had destroyed four wooden boats filled with stolen crude oil along Bodo Creek in Rivers State.
“A suspect was arrested while attempting to load crude oil into a Cotonuo boat from a Shell pipeline. The suspect was handed over to the JTF for a preliminary investigation before being handed over for prosecution.
“In a similar operation, the Maritime Component of the JTF Nigeria Navy Ship also intercepted and destroyed four wooden boats, one welding machine, 3,000 drums and 15 pits filled with suspected stolen crude in the Niger Delta region,’’ he added.