* discovers 48 illegal refineries, recovers arms, stolen crude oil, rescues 15 hostages
By Augustine Osayande
Nigerian troops of Headquarters Operation DELTA SAFE have discovered 48 illegal refineries, 28 surface metal storage tanks, 60 cooking ovens and 18 Cotonou boats at various locations in Niger Delta area.
Confirming the report, Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters, Major General John Enenche, said troops of Sector 2 while on routine patrol at Nembe Owelesu, Bayelsa State encountered sea robbers at Abuja Open Water-Nembe.
He said the Sea robbers on sighting the troop’s gunboats escaped into the creeks but the troops rescued 15 persons held hostage in 5 speed boats by the hoodlums.
Enenche further stated that, acting on a tip-off, Nigerian Navy Ship PATHFINDER patrol team intercepted and arrested 3 barges (MV Rock 1, JULIANAH and an unnamed barge) laden with illegally-refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) at AGIP waterfront for suspected involvement in illegal bunkering activities.
He said the team also arrested another barge laden with suspected stolen crude oil around Okochiri River entrance.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, also disclosed that troops of Sector 3, Operation DFLTA SAFE conducted raids on four Illegal refining sites along Dema Abby – Oputumbi – Nanabie – Promise Land – Otobie and Ogono general area.
He said 7 boilers, 9 storage tanks, 8 metal tanks, 1 dugout reservoir all filled with stolen crude oil, 8 metal tanks, 18 metal drums, 11 reservoir tanks filled with illegally refined AGO and Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), 2 empty Cotonou boats, 1 generator set, 1 pumping machine, 2 welding machines, 1 filing machine, rolls of hose, and 1 speedboat mounted with 75 HP engine (use for illegal bunkering activities) were also discovered within the sites.
Enenche also stated that troops of Sector 3 on patrol intercepted a barge laden with suspected illegally-refined AGO around Orutoru general area of Rivers State.
He said following intelligence report, troops of Headquarters Operation DELTA SAFE discovered and appropriately handled an Illegal refining site at Uzere community at Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, added that troops of Sector 2 Operation DELTA SAFE deployed along KCTL pipeline at Odau Community in Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State arrested 3 suspected pipeline vandals around Shell Petroleum Development Company pipeline.
”Overall, a total of 3 weapons were recovered, 48 illegal refineries, 28 surface metal storage tanks, 60 cooking ovens and 18 Cotonou boats amongst others were discovered while about 58,500 liters of DPK, 11, 750 liters of PMS, 855,900 liters of AGO and an estimated 1, 507,000 liters of crude oil were seized by troops,” Enenche said.
The Coordinator Defence Media Operations said all rescued victims, recovered items and arrested suspects were to be handed over to the appropriate authorities at the end of preliminary investigation.
He requested the general public to continue to give credible information that would assist the military to rid the country of economic saboteurs.