The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta on Saturday warned owners of vessels and tankers against allowing the use of their facilities in oil bunkering activities.
Commander of the Task Force, Maj-Gen Emmanuel Atewe, who issued the warning, said that henceforth, vessels involved in oil bunkering related activities, would be destroyed.
Atewe frowned at the activities of some of the vessel and truck owners, whom he said encouraged criminal conducts by renting their facilities to oil thieves for use in stealing crude oil.
According to him, it has become necessary to take stiffer measures because vessel owners often claim that they do not know that their facilities are being used to commit crime.
“The command is committed to the protection of oil platforms against oil thieves which is in line with its mandate.
“Therefore we are advising that vessel owners should always verify the intentions of person or persons before hiring out their vessels to them,” Atewe said.
The Commander also said that JTF received reports that armed militants from Ekene community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, allegedly invaded Zion community.
“The hoodlums harassed innocent people and extorted money and consumable items from their victims before escaping.
“The same gang also intercepted and diverted 2 passenger boats and abducted passengers on board. Troops of the JTF are currently on the trail of the criminals,” Atewe said.
In another development, the JTF has handed over to the EFCC for prosecution, three suspects arrested for illegal oil bunkering.
According to the Commander, the suspects were arrested on 15 June 2014 by troops of the command at Ogale Eleme in Rivers State in a truck.
The truck was laden with 45,000 liters of Automated Gas Oil (AGO), suspected to have been stolen from a vandalized NNPC pipeline.
He also revealed that the Task Force had arrested two persons that attempted to bribe his men with the sum of N200, 000 to facilitate the release of the truck and suspects.
The two suspects have also been handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.