Authorities of the Joint Military Task Force(JTF) code named Operation Pulo Shield yesterday intercepted two oil vessels and barges along the Akassa Waterways of Otokolomobio near Oloma and Bonny Island of Bayelsa and Rivers States.
Also raided were 23 illegal refineries located along the Ughoton River in Okpe and Saghara pipeline inlet channels of Warri South local government area of Delta State.
The JTF in a statement issued yesterday in Yenagoa by the head of the Joint Media Centre, Lt.col., Onyenma Nwachukwu, said the oil vessels identified as MT Sophia and MT EVEREST 1 were intercepted while carrying out illegal oil bunkering activities in the region.
Onyenma said: "A similar raid was also carried out along Ughoton River in Okpe and Saghara pipeline Inlet Channel in Warri South, Delta State where 23 illegal oil refineries were destroyed. The JTF also arrested five wooden barges popularly known as Cotonu boats conveying stolen petroleum products. The boats were arrested along Ugbokoto community in Warri South West local government area of Delta State and Obi Creek at Ikomogbemi, Otua, Tebidaba and Akassa communities in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State.
"During these raids, which were carried out from 19 January to 8 February 2013, 52 suspects involved in various oil related crimes were arrested and are currently undergoing preliminary investigation before being handed over to prosecuting agencies.
"Within this period also, four JTF soldiers on escort duty on board Sterling Global Oil were attacked in an ambush by suspected sea robbers on 5 February, 2013. Two JTF operatives were killed in action in the fire fight that ensued while two sustained injuries. The JTF is presently carrying out cordon and search of suspected hideouts to fish out the perpetrators."