The Joint Military Force in the Niger Delta said on Friday that it arrested two suspected oil thieves and impounded a vessel involved in illegal bunkering activities in Bayelsa waterways.
The joint force, christened Operation Delta Safe (ODS), said that it impounded 300 metric tons capacity vessel currently anchored at Forward Operation Base (FOB) in Formosso, Brass in Bayelsa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Navy Capt. Mayowa Olukoya, Commander, FOB handed the two suspects over to Operation Delta Safe on board the barge.
NAN further reports that Mr Chinwuzor Austin, Commander, National Security and Civil Defence Component of Operation Delta Safe, received the suspects at the naval base in Brass.
Speaking at the brief handover, Olukoya said that the two suspects were caught while loading the barge with suspected illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), otherwise known as diesel.
“On July 25, my men of Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Sorro and FOB were alerted of suspected illegal bunkering activities at Oluasiri near Nembe.
“On arrival, a barge was being loaded with substance suspected to be illegally refined AGO; two suspects were apprehended, while two escaped even as we are intensifying efforts to arrest them.
“We actually caught them in the act. The volume of the AGO so far loaded into the 300 metric tons capacity barge is yet to be ascertained,’’ Olukoya said.
He said that three local boats used by the suspected oil thieves were set ablaze at the crime scene.
Spokesman of Operation Delta Safe, Lt. Col. Olaolu Daudu, who witnessed the handover, said that the suspects would be interrogated and handed over to the prosecuting agencies after preliminary investigations.