The Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta codenamed “Operation Pulo Shield”, says its special squad on anti-illegal oil bunkering and oil theft has arrested an illegal oil bunkering barge in the region.
The JTF said the barge containing an unquantified volume of Automated Gas Oil (diesel) suspected to be illegally refined, was intercepted by the squad during a routine patrol along Alakiri waterways of Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
In a statement on Sunday, the Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Col. Mustapha Anka, said the barge, which had four compartments, was fully loaded with the suspected stolen products.
The coordinator noted that the arrest took place after loading from an undisclosed illegal oil refining camp in Alakiri area of the state.
According to him, the arrest followed a tip off, stressing that the barge was arrested on its way to the sea.
He said the barge and the product were towed to a safer place and destroyed immediately in line with the mandate of the JTF.
Anka said, “In line with his zero tolerance campaign for oil theft and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region, the Commander, JTF, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, earlier warned vessel and barge owners to always verify the usage purpose before letting it out.
“He even warned that any vessel or barge arrested for oil related crimes will be destroyed and suspects prosecuted to serve as a deterrent”.