The Board of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has commended the Joint Task Force (JTF) over the arrest of oil thieves in Bayelsa.
The Board Chairman, Maj. Lancelot Anyanya (rtd), gave the commendation in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by the Deputy Director of Press in the agency, Mr Ogubike Henshaw.
The statement quoted Anyanya as saying that the success of the JTF in ridding the Niger Delta of oil theft and illegal bunkering would create room for NOSDRA to deliver on its mandate.
It noted that oil theft and oil spillage constituted a serious environmental threat to the region and the people at large.
“The problem of crude oil theft and illegal bunkering is one that has been a major worry for everyone.
“We are excited as an agency that those ills, vices and other criminal activities are being eliminated; our worry at NOSDRA is all about oil spill caused by the oil thieves.
“This is because, more often than not, these saboteurs do not have the expertise to deal with the infrastructure that they attack in the attempt to feed their greed.
“They usually damage our ecology through oil spills that no one is immuned from, because of the health implications in various forms.
“It is an economic terrorism and a crime that must be won,” the statement said.
It called on stakeholders in the oil-bearing region to embrace a new regime of engagement being canvassed by NOSDRA.
According to the statement, NOSDRA places premium on patriotism and conscientious approach to the fight against oil theft, which constitutes a major threat to national survival.
“There is now an urgent call to reason and ensure that we do all that is necessary to rid the region of oil spillage, because the environment is our future.
“We commend the Operation Pulo Shield Command for the job the JTF has done over the years, which in the process, is bringing sanity to this part of our country.
“The JTF has been a critical enabler of our national economy, our national security and national stability,” Anyanya said in the statement.
NAN recalls that the JTF Operation Pulo Shield, recently arrested 14 suspected oil thieves, including two Britons in Yenagoa.
Maj-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, the Commander of the JTF alleged that the syndicate had offered a N20 million bribe to siphon oil from Shell pipeline at Chanomi in Delta before they were arrested.