Army arrests crude oil thieves, impounds truck in Rivers
•NAF air strikes destroy boats with stolen products
The Six Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, yesterday, arrested three suspects for indulging in illegal bunkering activities around Obiri-Ikwerre flyover along the Airport Road in Aluu Community, Ikwerre Local Council of Rivers State.
Commander of Six Division Garrison, Brigadier General Eddie Effiong, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the scene of the crime, said troops also seized a petroleum truck laden with 45,000 litres of crude oil.
The Garrison Commander attributed the arrest to an intelligence tip-off and expressed surprise at the audacity of the suspects in indulging in such an illegal act in the heart of the town and within a business environment.
Effiong, who is also the Commander of Sector Three, Operation Delta Safe Joint Task Force, said the suspects clandestinely dug about six feet hole, connected their hose to the line, and siphoned crude with the aid of a pumping machine.
He said: “At about 2:30 a.m., we got information that some people were into illegal bunkering activities. We sent out troops to investigate, which led to the arrest of a 45,000 litres capacity tanker. It is a 50-metre Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) right of way of oil facilities; they dug a hole and started drilling the oil.
“Three suspects have been arrested with the products and equipment they used in the illegal activities.”
Effiong assured that an investigation would be carried out after which the truck and the product will be destroyed.
“Since we have the suspects, the law is going to take its cause. An investigation is going to be carried out because these people may just be the workmen. So, we are going to find out, to get to the root of this,” he said.
He said those living and doing business around the area are all culpable of the crime, noting that operators of the pipeline have been informed and have cordoned off the affected area.
While soliciting timely and useful information from residents of the state, he advised people to stop going into crime and look for something legitimate to do, saying the Army would not stop in ensuring that perpetrators of such acts are arrested and are made to face the law.
ALSO, the Air Component of Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) has destroyed boats with stolen crude oil in the Niger Delta Region.
The strike occurred on Saturday, August 5, at about 4 Nautical Miles Southeast of Bille, a riverine area located west of Bonny Island and South of Port Harcourt, in Rivers State.
According to spokesperson for the Airforce, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the air strikes became necessary after three boats were sighted tapping crude oil from a pipeline.
He said: “Consequently, the boats were engaged and destroyed by the aircraft. Flying towards Port Harcourt, the crew also observed an active illegal refining site with tanks and reservoirs loaded with suspected illegal refined products, about 4 miles South-east of Idama in Rivers State. The site was subsequently attacked and destroyed.
“Air strikes against these economic saboteurs will be sustained until they desist from their criminal activities and economic sabotage.”
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, has since directed all air component commanders nationwide to ensure they team up with other security agencies as they sustain air strikes on all criminal elements in the country.
“The days of treating criminal elements in our country with kids’ gloves are over. We must continue on this trajectory until we bring all of them to their knees.”
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.