By Sumaila Ogbaje, Abuja.
The Defence Headquarters says the troops of Operation Delta Safe have in the past three weeks discovered and destroyed 57 illegal refining sites, while apprehending 21 oil thieves in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states.
The Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Musa Danmadami, made this known on Thursday in Abuja, while giving an update of military operations in the country.
Danmadami said that the troops also destroyed 953 cooking ovens, 68 wooden boats, 172 storage tanks and 149 dugout pits within the period.
He said the troops in the conduct of Operation Octopus Grip also recovered 445,000 litres of crude oil, 1.04 million litres of Automotive Gas Oil, 22,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and 2,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosine.
He said that eight tankers, 63 vehicles, two speedboats, one tugboat, 14 motorcycles, one tricycle, three bicycles, 11 pumping machines and three outboard engines were also seized.
Besides, Danmadami said that 21 oil thieves and pipeline vandals were also apprehended within the period under review.
“Cumulatively within the weeks in focus, oil thieves were denied a total of N713.6 million in the region.
“The large quantity of illegal crude oil and other petroleum products recovered and destroyed and the number of arrested oil thieves and pipeline vandals, show the unrelenting efforts by the troops of Operation Delta Safe in denying them freedom of action,” he said.
In the South-East geopolitical zone, the defence spokesman said that soldiers and other security agencies in the zone neutralised seven criminals, apprehended 25 others and rescued eight kidnapped persons.
He said that the troops also seized five AK47 rifles, eight pump action guns, three locally made pistols, three dane guns, several locally fabricated hand grenades, as well as leg cuffs and chains, among others.
According to him, all the confiscated and recovered items, rescued civilians and apprehended criminals have been handed over to the relevant authorities for further action.
In the South West, Danmadami said that the troops of Operation AWATSE in the conduct of Operation Swift Response recovered 1,680 50-kg. bags of foreign rice, 997 jerrycans of 30 litres of PMS, one truck, two Golf cars, bales of used clothing, among other items.
He said that the troops also arrested two criminal elements during the operation.
He said that all recovered items had been handed over to the Nigerian Custom Services, while the arrested criminals were handed over to the relevant authorities for further action.