Operatives of the Joint Task Force JTF, in the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield, yesterday, invaded the Igbomotoru mangrove swamp in the Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State, destroying about thirty illegal refinery camps.
The soldiers backed by three gunboats and two water crafts, according to community sources, stormed the area at about 6 a.m. set the camps ablaze and destroyed the tools used by the illegal refinery operators in carrying out their nefarious trade.
Also destroyed, it was learnt, were boats found at the camps believed to be used in transferring the alleged stolen crude and their illegally refined consignment to the main the river for onward shipment to their buyers.
The military action, it was learnt, was part of the on-going efforts by the authorities to stem the upsurge in crude oil theft and the booming illegal refinery trade in the creek and waterways of the Delta.
According to sources, heavily armed soldiers, backed by military gunboats and water crafts were sighted heading towards the area on Friday night ostensibly for a dawn raid on the camps being used as refinery base by the illegal refinery operators.
The water crafts were allegedly used by the soldiers to access the narrow creek to reach those camps located far away in the mangrove swamp.
When contacted, the spokesman of the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col Oyeama Nawachuckwu, confirmed the renewed onslaught against illegal refinery operators and crude oil theft in the Delta.
He said two house boats with a number of composite troops had been deployed in the area to intensify patrol of the creek and prevent the dislodged illegal refinery operators from returning to the sacked camps.
His words, "Following the deployment of troops in the area, aggressive raid was conducted and several illegal refinery camps were destroyed."