Nigerian troops destroy 74 illegal refineries, arrest 39 vandals


Troops of Operation Delta Safe deactivated 74 illegal crude oil refining sites and apprehended 39 oil thieves in the Niger Delta in the last two weeks.

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

He said troops sustained pressure and denied criminal elements freedom of action in the two weeks to ensure the provision of an environment conducive for economic activities to thrive.

The pressure also ensured the protection of oil and gas infrastructures in the region, he said.

He added that troops of Operation Octopus Grip discovered and destroyed 60 illegal refining sites, 58 wooden boats, six speed boats, 384 storage tanks, 223 cooking ovens and 60 dugout pits.

Mr Danmadami told newsmen that troops also recovered 20 pumping machines, three motorcycles, one tricycle, 18 vehicles and arrested 34 pipeline vandals.

He said a total of 3.7 million litres of crude oil, 458,000 litres of diesel, 1,000 litres of petrol and 13,000 litres of kerosene were also recovered.

“In a related development, troops of Operation Dakatar Da Barawo in the sustained fight against crude oil theft and maritime illegalities discovered and destroyed 14 illegal refineries.

“They also destroyed 72 metal storage tanks, nine wooden boats, 29 dugout pits, 51 ovens and 25 reservoirs.

“Cumulatively, within the weeks under review oil thieves were denied a total of N2.1 billion in the South-South region.

“Also, between Sept. 23 and Sept. 28, the air component of `Operation Delta Safe’ conducted air interdiction operations at locations observed to be carrying out illegal refining activities at Ahoada in Rivers.

“The airstrike destroyed the illegal refining sites with several criminals fleeing during the engagement.

“A similar air interdiction operation was carried out on an illegal refining site with boathouse accommodation. Facilities there were destroyed while the criminals fled in disarray,’’ he said.

Mr Danmadami said troops arrested a suspected criminal logistics supplier at Amana in Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross Rivers on Sept. 24.

He said the troops recovered 20 pairs of black boots, 20 pairs of special force uniforms, two mobile phones and N15,200 from the suspect.

He added that on Sept. 28, troops arrested two Cameroonians, suspected to be Ambazonian rebels informants at a hotel in Ikang in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River.

In the Southeast, troops discovered and destroyed several illegal refining sites, 438 sacks of illegally refined diesel, eight coking ovens, and seven dugout pits among other items.

Mr Danmadami said troops of 82 Garrison Division raided a suspected criminal hideout of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network, IPOB/ESN, at Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State on Sept. 28.

They arrested eight suspects at the hideout, he added.

The defence spokesman said that in the Southwest, troops of Operation AWATSE intercepted a vehicle conveying 350, 50kg, bags of smuggled rice on the Dangote-Ilaro Road in Yewa Local Government Area of Ogun on Sept. 30.

He added that a joint border patrol team also discovered 145 (50kg) bags of smuggled rice hidden in the bush at Oja-Odan/Ebute in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun on Monday.

All recovered items were handed over to the Nigerian Custom Service warehouse, Abeokuta for further action, Mr Danmadami said.