The Joint Task Force (JTF) operating in the Niger Delta says it has discovered new methods used by oil thieves to convey illegally refined petroleum products in the area.
A JTF personnel, who pleaded anonymity, in Port Harcourt yesterday that oil thieves fill jerry-cans with refined oil in rickety trucks to deceive unsuspecting security agents.
According to the source, two rickety trucks and the drivers were arrested in Abonnema, Rivers and one of the trucks could accommodate 33,000 litres of petroleum products.
The JTF personnel said that both trucks had enlarged compartments to hide the loaded products.
"We received intelligence report about the activities of oil thieves around Abonnema waterside and we stormed the area.
"Immediately the oil thieves got hint that the JTF was coming, they fled with some of the trucks but we still intercepted them before they could escape, and one of the drivers claimed he was carrying saw dust.
"On scrutiny, we discovered that the trucks had separate compartments which had 200 Jerry-cans of illegally refined diesel," he said.
According to the soldier, the second truck which has the capacity to carry 33, 000 litres of petroleum products was not filled to capacity as at the time of making the arrest.
Maj. Michael Etete, Spokesman for the 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, who confirmed the arrest, said the suspects would be handed over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps for prosecution.
He said with the new development, security agents had been put on red alert to intensify stop-and-search operation at various security check-points in the area.
Etete called on the public to provide infor-mation that could lead to the arrest of individuals or groups involved in criminal activities.