By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
The Nigerian Army has said it is flushing militants and criminal elements out of the creeks of Niger Delta just as it has made several arrests of suspected oil thieves while destroying at least two illegal refineries being operated by suspected oil bunkerers.
A statement issued by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, stated that troops of the 4 Brigade have made tremendous progress in the raid on suspected criminal hideouts in the creeks around Ajaosolo, Okogho, Opumani and Obodo general area.
The Army spokesperson said following intelligence reports, two illegal crude oil refineries were identified and destroyed by the exercising troops traversing Ayakoromo and Esaba water ways in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
According to him, troops have also intercepted suspected illegal oil bunkerer with 1 “Cotonou Boat” laden with crude oil, 3 X 40 Horse power Yamaha Speedboats and 5 X 200 Liters of illegally refined diesel oil.
In a similar exercise near Bomadi town and Pendo and Tuomu of Bururtu local Government area of Delta State two suspects; Mr. Tokolo Sawyer and Miss Showman Ebiere were arrested at “Loveth Plaze”, while Mr Kingsley Ebidimo and seven others with unidentified mission were equally arrested at Pendo as they were found to be in possession of substance believed to be Marijuana. Other items found on them include: One Axe, two Cutting Saw and a long iron bender.
As part of the training exercise, the troops have also been carrying out patrols along waterways in the creeks and have recovered 2 “Cotonou Boats” and a 75 Horse Power Speedboat, 30 X 200 Litres plastic drums containing liquid suspected to be illegally refined crude oil in the creeks at Ovwahwa in Ughelli South Local Government Area. Three suspected persons, Messrs College Owahwa, Joseph Katte and Olisa Patrick found around the vicinity have been arrested and being questioned.
Meanwhile the troops have been boosted with more supporting weapons including; Main Battle Tank, 2 Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and 3 Scorpion Tanks from the Headquarters of Nigerian Armour Corps.
In addition to the training exercise, troops are equally carrying out free medical outreaches at central area Sapele and near Olu of Warri palace. The training exercise has continued.