Commander of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), code named, Operation PuloShield, Major- General Johnson Ochoga, has announced that the task force lost nine men in the last twelve months. He said the soldiers died during a military action against oil thieves along the waterways and creeks of the Niger Delta.
Ochoga disclosed that eight men were shot dead along the waterways of Brass and Santa Barbra Rivers in Bayelsa State, while one was shot by bandits during a patrol operation along the Choba road in Rivers State.
He revealed that a total of 1,945 suspects were arrested and 18 vessels seized in the region for alleged oil theft, adding that 38 of them were from Ghana, India, Lebanon and other countries in Asia and Europe.
The JTF commander pointed out that out of the 7,585 anti-illegal bunkering patrols conducted by the men of the Joint Task Force along the creeks of the region in the last 12 months, 133 barges, 1,215 Cotonou boats, 187 tanker trucks, 178 illegal fuel dumps and 5 surface tanks were destroyed. Also destroyed were 36,504 drums of illegally refined products, 638 pumping machines and 326 outboard engines.
"The arrest of 21 Ghanaians and their five Nigerian collaborators, as well as the destruction of two vessels containing 1, 300 tonnes of crude oil, is an indicator that there is a noticeable involvement of foreigners in illegal bunkering in the region. Another instance is the recent arrest of 10 suspects of Indian nationality and four Nigerians on board MT ASHKAY.
"This has brought to the fore, the need to monitor foreigners more closely in the region, which is a primary responsibility of the Nigerian Immigration Service," he said.