19 October 2011
The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in its bid to stamp out criminality from the Niger Delta region has intensified the war against illegal oil refinery and bunkering with the arrest of 14 suspected bunkerers.
The South- south governors had recently at its forum meeting in Yenagoa, agreed to tackle the problem of illegal refineries and bunkering, responsible for the pollution and environmental degradation in the region.
The media coordinator of the JTF, Lt. Col Timothy Antigha, while parading the suspects said they were nabbed along the Akassa water ways, Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State by a patrol team of the JTF.
According to him, the JTF, worried about the damage illegal refinery and bunkering was causing the Niger Delta region, had stepped up surveillance along the water ways and its efforts had yielded fruits with the arrest of 50 suspects in the last three months.
He disclosed that the suspects were unable to escape and they were rounded up with some equipment suspected to be those they used for the illegal refining of petroleum products. Antigha explained that preliminary investigations by the JTF indicated that those arrested were in two categories.
Five of the suspects, he said were ring leaders, while the remaining nine were arrested around the vicinity and the JTF was yet to determine their level of involvement in the crime. Those identified as the leaders include Monday Friday, Jeremiah Festus, Alabwe Asina, Ibianga Owei and Secondi Africanus.
Anthiga stated that after conclusion of the JTF investigations, the suspects would be handed over to the Police, who would conduct further investigations and prosecute them if necessary.
“They were involved in illegal oil bunkering. They will buy residues of poorly refined adulterated petroleum product from the market. They use some equipment to siphon stolen crude oil and also siphon illegally refined products,” he said.
He expressed the readiness of the JTF to protect oil facilities in the region, stressing that the end of militancy had led to increased cases of illegal oil bunkering and unlawful refining of petroleum of products.