Yenagoa – The joint military and police task force deployed to protect oil installations in the Niger Delta arrested 1,605 suspected oil thieves in more than 1,000 raids in 2015.
The spokesman of the task force, Col. Isa Ado, told newsmen in Yenagoa on Thursday that the suspects were at different of stages of prosecution.
“We have destroyed many kidnappers’ dens across the creeks of the Niger Delta.
“Our men also have recovered many weapons from these outlaws which include machine guns, AK-47 automatic rifles, explosive devices, detonating cords and live cartridges of different calibres,” Ado said.
He further said that the force seized a 2,000-tonne vessel, MV Europort, early in the year during one of its operations.
He said the vessel was laden with 1,500 metric tonnes of suspected stolen crude oil along Furopa channel in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
The spokesman said the force carried out more than 1,500 patrols and arrested 50 vessels and 200 barges while also destroying more than 1000 sites of illegal crude refining camps.
Parading five suspected pirates and two suspected oil thieves at its headquarters in Yenagoa, Ado said troops of Sector 2 of the operation arrested them between Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 while patrolling Sangala Creek in Southern Ijaw.
He said that items recovered from the suspects included four short guns, four cartridges, 12 mobile phones and other personal belongings.
“These people cash in on the difficulty in maneuvering the creeks to perpetrate criminal activities.
“The most recent is the arrest of three suspected militants and recovery of arms and ammunition of various calibre along Benin River in Itagbene, Warri North in Delta,” Ado said. (NAN)