WARRIâ€”The Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta at the weekend arrested five suspected oil thieves in Delta State, including one of those believed to have vandalized the Uzese/Eriemu (SPDC) Trunk 15 pipeline operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
Vanguard learnt that the anti-bunkering patrol team of the task force arrested four of the suspects, aged between 26 and 33 years with one wooden (Cotonou) boat, two speed boats and two pumping machines at Ogbodo community.
Spokesman of the security outfit, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, said:Â Â â€œPreliminary investigation revealed that the suspects were on their way to Emereje, Delta State, to dispose of the crude oil found with them.Â They have been handed over to our Military Police detachment for further investigation.
â€œSimilarlyâ€,Â according to him, â€œat about 10.00 am on June 12, 2009, our troops intercepted a tanker lorry with registration number,Â Plateau XF 915 JNN,Â loaded with products suspected to be crude oil.
â€œAlso intercepted alongside the tanker is a towing van meant to pull the tanker whenever it got stuck in muddy areas.
The suspected owners of the tanker fled on sighting the JTF troops but the men of the security outfit gave the suspects a hot chase and in the process one of them was arrestedâ€.
He said that initial investigation conducted into the incident revealed that the product, suspected to be crude oil, was siphoned from the Uzese/Eriemu (SPDC) Trunk 15 pipeline, following an earlier vandalization on the pipeline by the saboteurs.
â€œThe tanker is currently inÂ the custody of the JTF and the suspect arrested is assisting the men of the security outfit to track down other members of the syndicates that specialize in vandalizing and siphoning crude from pipelines,”Â he said.