Men of the Sector Two of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta region, code-named 'Operation Pulo Shield, Thursday arrested about 17 persons suspected to be involved in illegal oil bunkering when the force raided the Borokiri shoreline in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State.
THISDAY gathered that the security agents, who stormed the area at about 2.30a.m, also destroyed three boats believed to be used in the transportation of illegally refined petroleum products, as well as about 30 drums containing illegally refined products.
When THISDAY visited the Rex Lawson Waterfront, which was allegedly converted into a jetty by the oil thieves, large number of fully-armed JTF personnel were seen patrolling the area with their gun-boats.
A resident of the waterfront, who pleaded anonymity, however, told journalists that most of people arrested by the JTF were not involved in the illegal business, known within the community as 'Kpo-Fire'.
She stated that most of the people, especially youths who were involved in the illegal oil bunkering ran away from the waterfront before the arrival of the security agents, and appealed to the security outfit to release the arrested persons.
When contacted, spokesman of Sector Two of the JTF, Captain Sunny Samuel, confirmed the early morning raid, saying that it was in line with the determination of the outfit to bring an end to illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
Samuel, who is also the Army Public Relations Officer (APRO), 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, said; "Yes, it is true that we raided Borokiri this morning. It is part of our determination to rid the Niger Delta region of illegal oil bunkerers (sic). We will continue to raid their facilities as long as we continue to get information on where they are operating."
He stated that the arrested persons would soon be handed over to the appropriate authority for possible prosecution.