By Emma Amaize & Godwin Oghre
THE Joint Task Force, JTF, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield, yesterday, raided and razed over 50 illegal oil refineries at Igbudu-Aghalokpe village in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State.
The soldiers, numbering 40, were said to have been led in the operation by a senior JTF operative. They combed the illegal oil refineries, covering an area of five kilometers on both sides, along the creek of River Ethiope.
The illegal oil bunkerers seemed to have got wind of the “invasion,” as all the refineries were deserted when the soldiers arrived.
Youths of Igbudu-Aghalokpe community also fled the community to avoid arrest.
Despite the absence of the operators, it was gathered that there was evidence of fresh oil refining activities at the illegal refineries.
At 12noon, when the task force stormed the locations, only women and children were seen and some of the people who spoke to Vanguard, claimed that the oil refining activities were being carried out by oil thieves and not locals.
Some already refined diesel in 1,000 drums of 300 litres and no fewer than 100 local vessels used to transport crude oil, were discovered by the task force, including buckets, shovels and over 50 underground storage tanks.
Also uncovered were more than 100 surface tanks with more than 10,000-litre storage capacity, all of which were destroyed.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the operation would continue today.