Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: JTF Impounds Two Oil Vessels, Barges in Bayelsa

Yenagoa — The Joint Task Force, JTF, code named Operation Pulo Shield, yesterday, impounded two oil vessels and barges along the Akassa waterways in 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.

No fewer than 52 suspects allegedly involved in various oil related crimes were arrested and are undergoing preliminary investigation.

The Joint Task Force in a statement, yesterday, in Yenagoa by the Head of the Joint Media Campaign Centre, Lt-Col. Onyeama 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.

The vessels are currently anchored at the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Jetty, Bonny Island, Rivers State under the close watch of the military personnel.

According to Onyeama,"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 between January 19 and February 8, 2013, 52 suspects involved in various oil related crimes were arrested and are currently undergoing preliminary investigation before being handed over to prosecuting agencies.

2 JTF operatives killed

"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 February 5, 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."

JTF nabs kidnap kingpin

Meantime, Joint Military Task Force, JTF, Monday, apprehended one suspected notorious kingpin of a kidnap gang terrorizing Ughelli and its environs in Ughelli North Local Government Area, Delta State.

BY SAMUEL OYADONGHA & FESTUS AHON

The suspected kingpin identified as Kennedy Itoje, 37, a native of Iyede in Isoko North Local Government Area of the state was arrested by men of the JTF who were on a routine stop and check at Ogor along the East/West road at about 6pm in a Mazda car on his way to Yenagoa.

According to a dependable source, the kidnap kingpin and his group were responsible for many of the kidnap cases in the area. The group was also allegedly responsible for the kidnap of Mrs Kate Okogu, Mrs Ighoroje, Madam Ovibi, Rev Israel Unutame and other high profile personalities in the area.

Briefing newsmen on the arrest, Commanding Officer of the 222 Battalion, Ughelli, Lt Col Attahiru Rasheed said the suspect, Kennedy Itoje, had been on their wanted list and had been evading arrest.

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