Soldiers of the 222 Battalion and oil thieves are in a battle of supremacy at Otor-Edo and surrounding communities in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.
The illegal oil refiners have destroyed aquatic life, economic crops and a large expanse of land at Okpare community, following the intermittent firestorm that results from spilled crude oil.
Their activities have also made it difficult for soldiers to gain easy access to their points of operation.
It was gathered that fire on the river is working to the advantage of the oil thieves, as they have been able to fence off soldiers and sustain their operations in the creek. They have even been seen transporting diesel and other products in broad daylight.
However, military operatives have also launched an offensive against the vandals, setting ablaze a minimum of 50 vehicles found to be carrying stolen oil products. According to a source, this took place at their checkpoint along Okpare Road.
Recently, two vehicles suspected to be used by the oil thieves to convey illegally refined diesel were burnt by soldiers stationed in the area, sending huge balls of smoke into the atmosphere.
Speaking on the efforts to checkmate oil thieves in the area, a security source explained that operatives of the Operation Delta Safe (ODS) are in a dilemma over the activities of the vandals, who are said to work with local informants.