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Military destroys 40 illegal refining sites, apprehends 53 suspects

The Defence Headquarters says the troops of Operation Delta Safe and other subsidiary operations have in the last two weeks discovered and destroyed 40 illegal refining sites in the Niger Delta Region.

Illegal crude oil refining
Illegal crude oil refining in the Niger Delta region

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Musa Danmadami, made this known at bi-weekly news briefing on the operations of the armed forces on Thursday, February 9, 2023, in Abuja.

Danmadami said the troops also apprehended 53 suspected oil thieves and other criminals within the period in various operations across the South South zone.

He said the troops had continued the war against oil theft and illegal refineries and other criminal activities through aggressive and increased tempo in raids and clearance operations as well as patrol amongst other activities.

According to him, the land, maritime, and air component of the operation Delta Safe conducted operational activities at the creeks, waterways, high sea, towns, cities of Bayelsa, Delta and River to checkmate the activities of criminal element and deny them freedom of action.

Danmadami said the troops, in the conduct of operation Octopus Grip had on Jan. 30, discovered and destroyed 10 bags and five jerrican (25Ltrs) of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil along Tuomo-Atamasa flow line in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State as well as recovered a loaded doubled barrel gun.

He said the troops had on Feb. 3, discovered and destroyed an illegal refining site, seven metal ovens, 12 metal drums, 10 dugout pits, six storage tanks and 47 cellophane bags containing illegally refined products.

“Cumulatively, within the weeks under review, troops discovered and destroyed 40 illegal refining sites, 136 storage facilities, 66 ovens, 39 wooden boats, one generator, 11 vehicles and two tricycles.

“Additionally, troops recovered 222,000 litres of suspected crude oil, 83,000 litres of illegal refined Automotive Gas Oil and 1000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene while 53 suspected economic saboteurs were arrested.

“All recovered items and apprehended suspects have been handed over to the appropriate authority for further action,” he said.

Danmadami said the air component conducted air interdiction operations to several illegal refining sites and creeks at Lelekiri, Owoko and Biemekiri in Rivers as well as Ogiritoro in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom between Jan. 30 and Feb. 3.

According to him, over head the air crew observed some site to be active with illegal refining activities at the locations, while some were observed to have been abandoned.

“The active targets locations were engaged with weapons and the location were observed to have exploded in an inferno after the strike, while the illegal refining equipment were equally destroyed,” he added.

In the South East Zone, Danmadami said that troops and other security agents had sustained the offensive against the activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network criminals.

He said that the troops had within the period, conducted operational activities in villages, forest, towns and cities of Anambra, Abia, Imo and Enugu States geared towards restoring peace and normalcy to the region.

He said the troops had within the period recovered three AK47 rifle, one dane gun, one double barrel gun, one SMG, one tear gas launcher, six locally made pistol, 22 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, and 11 AK47 magazines.

“Also recovered are, 260 rounds of 223 Remington ammunitions, one travor 21 rifle loaded with 23 rounds of 5.56mm ammo,11 expended cartridges, political banners, one vehicle, Nigerian police personnel uniforms, combat boots IPOB flyers, three motorcycles, and two mobile phones amongst others items.

“Troops equally neutralised four terrorists and arrested nine terrorists.

“All recovered items and apprehended suspects have been handed over to the appropriate authority for further action,” he said.

In the South West Zone, defence spokesman said the troops of Operation AWATSE had on Jan. 27 apprehended a suspected criminal who was to waybill some arms in his possession at Iddo motor park in Lagos State.

He said the troops recovered one hand grenade, 25 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition, one roll of wire alongside other items suspected to be used for Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) from the suspect.

Danmadami added that the troops had on Jan. 30, arrested 120 suspected drug peddlers during a raid on some communities in Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Area of Lagan.

He said the troops recovered one locally fabricated pistol, 10kg of cannabis, five grains of methamphetamine, 3Kg of tramadol, eight mobile phones, assorted charms amongst other items.

On the forthcoming general elections, the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Tukur Gusau, reiterated the commitment of the armed forces to support the police to ensure peaceful polls.

Gusau said that the military high command had made clear at different fora that it would only play supportive roles to the lead security agency during elections.

By Sumaila Ogbaje

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