The Joint military Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta Monday said it had impounded 20 barges and five boats laden with 1,348 barrel of crude oil suspected to have been stolen in Bayelsa State. The JTF said this in a statement signed by the the Media Coordinator, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, in Yenagoa. It said the barges and boats were arrested between January 9 and 19 by the anti-illegal oil bunkering patrol squads. Nwachukwu said the boats were intercepted in Bodo West River and Azagbene creek in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), he said the troops also discovered two illegal oil refining sites concealed in Biara farmland in Akpor Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State and at Ajudaigbo in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State. He said the illegal refineries were destroyed by the patrol team, adding that 18 surface tanks, 11 drums, four plastic tanks, two pumping machines and hoses were also recovered in the clamp down. Nwachukwu also disclosed that troops of 222 Battalion of Sector 1 of the task force , deployed in Kokori flow station in Delta, had arrested three suspects for allegedly syphoning crude oil from a flow station. He said the suspects had already loaded the stolen crude in 20 drums into a truck before they were intercepted. “The suspects are currently in the custody of 222 Battalion assisting in preliminary investigations before they will be transferred to a relevant agency for prosecution,” he said. He said the task force also carried out cordon and search operation at the hideouts of suspected illegal oil bunkering camps in Igbematoru community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa following intelligent reports. “The cordon and search operation which was successfully executed has so far yielded positive results as our troops have recovered several tools used for illegal bunkering. “The items include 103 pumping machines, 32 hoses of various lengths and diameters, 17 hard saw machines and eight adjustable spanners. “The troops also destroyed three illegal refineries and recovered a large wooden boat, 178 drums, 86 Jerry cans and several polythene bags concealed in sacks, all laden with stolen crude oil. “Four suspects arrested in the cordon and search operation are currently being processed for handing over to appropriate prosecuting agency,” he said.
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