By Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Navy, said its Homeland Security Operations officers in the Niger Delta region arrested 22 suspected oil thieves and recovered more than 6 million liters of stolen crude.
The operation led by the Navy Chief of Staff’s biting team, dubbed “Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO” (OPDDB), is part of the service efforts to rid the Niger Delta region of oil thieves and illegal bunkering.
The director of naval information, Commodore Ayo-Vaughan, who made it known, said the team had made breakthroughs in which more than 10 billion naira of stolen crude oil and petroleum products had been refused to oil thieves by the Nigerian Navy.
Commodore Ayo-Vaughan, also said the suspects many of whom have been handed over to the proper authorities for prosecution.
He said: “The reporting period also highlighted the use of armed resistance by economic saboteurs and criminals, particularly in Okarki, a border community between Rivers and Bayelsa states. This development will not deter the Nigerian Navy from enforcing zero tolerance for economic sabotage and criminality in Nigeria’s maritime environment, especially in the backwaters.
According to him, “On May 1, 2022 therefore, the Nigerian Navy (NNS) vessel PATHFINDER in Port-Harcourt conducted swamp buggy operations in the Cawthorne Channel to clear identified refinery sites. The base intercepted a wooden boat loaded with an unknown quantity of AGO illegally refined in Isaka.
“On May 2, 2022, the Base arrested 12 suspects, 3 wooden boats and a speedboat loaded with illegally refined AGO. Similarly, on Tuesday May 3, 2022, NNS PATHFINDER attacked the communities of Tongolonsoju and Sokko. A credible report had indicated that the two communities served as key catalysts for the notorious illegal refining camps in the marketplace.
“Furthermore, the communities were semi-safe havens for illegal pimps and the logistics to build and maintain the illegal refineries came from the communities. Items recovered from the raid include 5 generators, 10 pumping machines, several pipes, large pipes, welding equipment, pipes and sheets for building storage tanks and cooking pots.
“In addition, 12 alleged economic saboteurs were apprehended, to be handed over to a prosecution.
On the same day, Forward Operating Base (FOB) ESCRAVOS in Delta State discovered a newly constructed Illegal Refining Site (IRS) along Ogulaha Stream in Burutu LGA. The IRS was active with a total of 10 furnaces, 17 metal storage tanks and 4 large pits collectively loaded with approximately 250,000 liters and 400,000 liters of illegally refined AGO and stolen crude oil respectively.
“In addition, FOB ESCRAVOS intercepted 3 speedboats loaded with 136 gallon 25 liters filled with locally refined AGO for a total of approximately 5,400 liters. The engines of 3 speedboats of 115hp, 2 engines of 40hp and 1 speedboat of 9.9 hp were recovered while the products were neutralized.
“Again, FOB ESCRAVOS at Jones Creek in Warri South-West LGA discovered a boat loaded with approximately 4,000 liters of illegally refined AGO. The base also intercepted a speedboat loaded with gallons of illegally refined AGO that the owner(s) of the boat had started throwing overboard in the water upon spotting the navy patrol boat before they fled to avoid arrest. destroyed.
“Additionally, on May 4, 2022, NNS PATHFINDER again intercepted 4 wooden boats loaded with unspecified amounts of AGO at Isaka Junction. The 4 boats were temporarily moored to a buoy and then towed to the base jetty. Following raid/cordon and search operations conducted by the base at Tongolonsunju and Sosokoroso in the Cawthorne Channel, the base deployed a swamp buggy to further neutralize some local refinery equipment/materials identified in the communities.
“On the same day, NNS SOROH in Yenagoa intercepted a market boat with approximately 10,000 liters of locally refined AGO around the community of Ezetu. The product was carefully concealed in the boat but was evacuated and neutralized. Additionally, acting on intelligence, the base stopped a Ford model bus in the Akenfa area of Yenagoa. The vehicle was loaded with approximately 2,000 liters of refined products illegally bagged to facilitate transportation.
“It was revealed that the goods were purchased from the Onimbu community en route to Ahoada, Rivers State. Efforts have been made to hand over the matter to the relevant prosecuting agency for further investigation and Prosecutions.Similarly, on 5 May 22, NNS PATHFINDER handed over MT JAZI to NIMASA.
Recall that the vessel was arrested on September 29, 2021 for alleged stealth activities in the Nigerian maritime environment during which it turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) in violation of applicable regulations.
“Mr. Joseph Bargha, the Area Manager’s Representative, NIMASA Eastern Zone received the vessel for further investigation and possible prosecution. In the same vein, NNS PATHFINDER handed over 6 wooden boats and 17 suspects to NSCDC, Rivers State Command for alleged illegal bunkering activities and attempted bribery.
“The boats and suspects had already been arrested during the OPDDB. On the same day, FOB BONNY, around the Bonny-Bodo Road and Andoni River entrances, discovered an IRS in Orutoro behind the community of Peterside. Thus, the 4 storage tanks loaded with approximately 800,000 liters of AGO were destroyed.
“Furthermore, FOB BONNY, based on credible information, traveled to Obunku Creek around the community of Atumakri where it was discovered that a previously deactivated IRS had been reactivated.
“At the site, there was a group of different IRS camps with 6 refining pots and 6 empty metal tanks. The FOB traced a network of pipes and hoses connected to 2 Tampaulin storage tanks containing approximately 500,000 liters of oil Stolen crude The products were later destroyed while the tanks and drums were reserved for swamp buggy operations due to accessibility limitations and the size of the area.
“In addition to this, FOB BONNY intercepted 2 large wooden boats in a nearby cove, loaded with approximately 200,000 liters and 300,000 liters of stolen crude oil and AGO respectively. The boats and products were destroyed from Major demining operations are envisaged in the identified IRS areas of Kalibiama, Ijawkiri, Atumari and Andoni communities.