The Defence Headquarters says troops of Operation Delta Safe have discovered and destroyed 109 illegal refining sites and arrested 24 economic saboteurs within two weeks in the South-South region.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, said this while briefing newsmen on the operations of the armed forces on Thursday in Abuja. Onyeuko said the troops operating under Operation Octopus Grip, also discovered and destroyed 34 wooden boats, 150 storage tanks, 119 ovens and 104 dugout pits.
He said the troops also recovered 27 pumping machines, one weapon, one speed boat, 13 vehicles and seven outboard engine during the period. He said the troops also recovered 4.3 million litres of crude oil, 2.05 million litres of diesel and 30,000 litres of kerosine.
According to him, troops also arrested 24 economic saboteurs, adding that all recovered items and apprehended suspects are handed over to the appropriate authorities.
Onyeuko said the Nigerian Navy Ship Okpabana on July 5, responded to a distress message and rescued a 16 metres surfer passenger boat MV Nue Swift belonging to a Lagos based oil servicing company.
According to him, the boat had lost her propelling ability at Agbara Platform while transiting from Forcados to Bonny Mooring and drifted for 32 hours before being rescued by own troops.
“Accordingly, the crew, the boat was handed over to the Forward Operations Base, Bonny on July 6,” he said.
In the South West, Onyeuko said the troops continued to fight crime and clamped down on smugglers in the border area of the zone. He said the troops on July 3, recovered 61 of 25 litres jerricans of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in a joint border patrol.
According to him, they intercepted two vehicles loaded with 163 fifty kilograms of foreign rice along Ifo-Abeokuta in Ifo Local Government Area and Ijimu-Tata in Imeko Afon Local Government Area of Ogun. “All recovered items were handed over to the Nigerian Custom Service, Abeokuta.
While responding to questions, the Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Jimmy Akpor, said activities of the oil thieves was a lose-lose situation for both the criminals and the government.
Akpor said the products impounded from the criminals were no longer useful, explaining that the products can neither be returned to the pipelines nor processed for use. He solicited the cooperation of the public to protect the economic assets and also prevent the environment from being degraded.