The military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, operating in the Niger Delta, said it has impounded a vessel allegedly laden with some 2,500 tonnes of stolen crude at Okuboto creek in Bayelsa.
Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwackukwu, the spokesman for team, said Sunday the arrest was made while the vessel was on the verge of filling the fourth of its compartments.
The vessel is currently in custody of Headquarters Sector 2 for preliminary investigations prior to prosecution, he said.
Separately, a barge, allegedly engaged in oil theft activities, was impounded along Golubo creek of Bayelsa while conveying stolen petroleum product, the JTF spokesperson said.
Mr. Nwachukwu said the crew of the barge, fled into the mangrove forest on sighting military, abandoning their barge.
The barge has been towed to AGIP Brass Terminal for safe custody while preliminary investigation is ongoing to identify the owners, he said.
The seizures could not be independently verified. But the task team’s claim appears an escalation of security effort at responding to increasing oil theft in the oil region.
The JTF said in another anti oil theft raid by troops, 30 boats conveying alleged illegally refined petroleum products were intercepted along Aruton and Ugborodo communities of Delta state.
The boats were arrested loaded with plastic tanks filled with stolen petroleum product, and other items, including 11 hand gloves, one packet of electrode, a bunch of clips and 2 pumping machines, were recovered.
The operation, which lasted from April 7 to 14, saw the destruction of eight illegal crude oil refinery camps along Oboro, Kpukpugbene in Burutu and Sagara, near Escravos in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta, Mr. Nwachukwu said.
Also nine steel tanks and 187 large plastic reservoirs used by the oil thieves to perpetrate the crime at the camp sites were destroyed at the site where they were discovered.
The spokesman further said that 21 suspects, arrested at various crime locations, were currently undergoing preliminary investigations in various sectors of the task force and would be subsequently handed over to prosecuting agencies.