Military Destroys 1,423 Illegal Oil Refineries, Arrests 567 Oil Theft in 2021 -DHQ

Military Destroys 1,423 Illegal Oil Refineries, Arrests 567 Oil Theft in 2021 -DHQ
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Mariam Sanni, Abuja

The Nigerian Defence Headquarters, DHQ has disclosed that the Joint Task Force South – South Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS) in 2021 has destroyed 1,423 Illegal Oil refining site, while 567 suspects were arrested in connection with various crimes.

This was disclosed by the Director, Defence Media Operations Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko disclosed this in a press statement, while giving update on operational activities of the Joint Task South South OPDS from January to December 2021.

Onyeuko said that the Joint Task Force South South of Operation Delta Safe conducted both kinetic and non-kinetic operations within its large JOA spanning the entire Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States. Others are the southern parts of Ondo, Edo, Anambra, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.

According to him, the terrain of the Joint Operation Area is swampy, water-logged and crisscrossed by network of rivers and creeks. Due to the nature of the terrain and the need to reduce fatigue on troops, operations are mostly intelligence-driven. To effectively tackle the security challenges in the area, the OPDS is made into a multi-agency organisation comprising elements drawn from 12 different security agencies which are; NA, NN, NAF, DIA, NPF, DSS and NSCDC. Others are NCS, NIS, NCoS, NDLEA and EFCC.

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“The JTF leverages capabilities as well as information generated and shared by the aforementioned agencies in conducting operations aimed at attaining the JF’s mandate. OPDS has conducted wide range of operational activities within the period under review and has achieved successes”, he said.

He added that, some of these activities include protection of Oil and Gas Facilities, Anti-Crude Oil Theft Operations and Clearance of Militants’/Pirates’ Camps as well as non-kinetic conflicts resolution.

“The anti-Crude Oil Theft (COT) efforts of the JF during the period in consideration has led to the demobilization of about 1,423 illegal oil refining sites (each of which contains many camps), over 4,929 storage facilities and 536 large wooden boats, popularly called ‘Cotonou boats’ among others.

“Also, 13 ships laden with crude oil cargo, 9 barges, 137 trucks and other types of vehicles conveying illegally refined products were arrested. Additionally, about 40 million litres of crude oil and 67 million litres of illegally refined products mostly AGO were recovered from the criminals, he added.

Onyeuko noted that, in the process of conducting these operations, 567 suspects were arrested in connection with various crimes. The suspects and exhibits have all been handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agencies for prosecution. While some of the arrested suspects have been convicted, others are still undergoing trials in various courts of law.

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“Clearance of Militants’/Pirates’ Camps.    During the period in focus, the JF conducted several clearance operations. The objectives of the operations were to get rid of militants and pirates/sea robbers taking refuge in the JOA.  In all, about 51 such camps were completely destroyed while 153 assorted weapons as well as large number of various calibre of ammunitions were recovered from the criminals.”

He pointed out that, in 2021, there were 28 reported cases of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea which forms part of Nigeria’s waters while within the same period, only 4 attacks were recorded in Nigerian Waters.

“Within the year 2021, the JTF SS OPDS has amicably resolved about 54 Corporate Social Responsibility-related heated disputes involving oil companies such as; SEEPCO, SPDC, AITEO, NECONDE and NAOC among others, with their host communities. The employment of non-kinetic instruments has contributed immensely to averting breaches against Oil and Gas infrastructure by host communities which has thus, significantly contributed to providing a conducive environment for O&G businesses to thrive.

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He stressed that the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen LEO Irabor, the service chiefs as well as other heads of security agencies acknowledged the tremendous support and encouragements always received from personnel for the operations of the JTF which yielded remarkable achievements in 2021.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) Op DELTA SAFE was activated on 24 June 2016 to replace the defunct Operation PULO SHIELD (OPPS) to stem security challenges that threaten the Niger Delta as well as the Oil and Gas industry, which is the main economic pillar of the nation.

The restructuring of the Joint Task Force was geared towards the realisation of its mandate, which is ‘To protect oil and gas infrastructure and deter militancy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and other forms of criminality within the JOA that could impact negatively on economic activities in the Niger Delta’.


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