The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, says it has apprehended 28 suspects for oil theft, including one Mr. James Ogbe, who attempted to bribe the outfit with an undisclosed amount of money.
Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, JTF, Lt. Col. Ado Isa, said in a statement on Wednesday that troops arrested 25 of the suspects in six illegal distillation camps while carrying out illegal oil bunkering and oil theft.
He said the JTF patrol arrested them along the Sector One area which comprised Ondo, Delta, and Edo states.
He said the suspects were arrested at illegal oil bunkering sites at Egbokodo, Beneth Island and Otegele in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
He said the suspects operated with 23 pumping machines, 19 cooking pots, 48 Cotonou boats, 50 surface tanks and 10 dug out pits filled with stolen crude oil and illegally acquired Automated Gas oil.
Also discovered, according to Isa, were 22 pieces of 2000 litre capacity plastic tanks and 162 200 litre capacity drums, all filled with substances suspected to be stolen crude.
He said the sites and the materials were destroyed and the suspects taken into the JTF custody for further interrogation.
On Ogbe, the JMCC Coordinator said he was arrested for attempting to bribe the troops with undisclosed sum of money in order to secure the release of some illegal bunkering trucks earlier arrested by the JTF.
He said the trucks were arrested along Eminye Road, Oleh and Agbakoro in Isoko South and Ughelli North LGAs of Delta State.
Isa said, “The trucks, filled with substances suspected to be stolen crude were arrested along with two drivers of the trucks.
“Mr. Ogbe confessed to be the owner of the arrested trucks and its contents which were illegally siphoned from an oil company’s pipeline situated behind Premium filling station in Effurum, Delta.
“The troops on further search of his Navy Blue 2004 model Honda Accord discovered a small generator, connecting hoses and welding materials used for the operation. The trucks and the products were evacuated to a safe place and destroyed while the suspects and the Honda car are in the custody of the JTF for further investigation.”
The spokesperson said the troops in the Sector 2 area of the operation, in conjunction with southern Ijaw Local Government Area Oil and Gas task force conducted anti-illegal oil bunkering operations at Gbenekruko, Bayelsa State.
He said in the search, the outfit discovered two functional illegal refineries where oil thieves operated with various illegal bunkering equipment.
He said the sites with the equipment were destroyed immediately.