A jet belonging to the air component of Operation Delta Safe has bombed three boats while allegedly stealing crude oil from a pipeline in Rivers State.
The jet struck the boat during one of its operations conducted around a riverine area between Bonny Island and South of Port Harcourt on Saturday.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet, said the crew discovered and destroyed an active illegal refining site with tanks and reservoirs loaded with suspected illegal refined products at the Idama area of Rivers.
“These are not the best of times for oil thieves and their accomplices in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria as the Air Component of Operation Delta Safe continues to strike at the heart of their activities. One of such operation occurred on Saturday, August 5, 2023, at about 4 nautical miles South-East of Bille, a riverine area located west of Bonny Island and South of Port Harcourt, in Rivers State.
“ The air strikes became necessary after three boats were sighted tapping crude oil from a pipeline. Consequently, the boats were engaged and destroyed by the aircraft. Flying towards Port Harcourt, the crew also observed an active illegal refining site with tanks and reservoirs loaded with suspected illegal refined products, about four miles South-East of Idama in Rivers State. The site was subsequently attacked and destroyed,” Gabkwet said in a statement on Monday.
According to him, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, has directed all air component commanders nationwide to team up with other security agencies as they sustain air strikes on all criminal elements in the country.
“The days of treating criminal elements in our country with kids’ gloves are over. We must continue on this trajectory until we bring all of them to their knees,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 6 Division, Nigeran Army, Port Harcourt said its troops seized a 45, 000-litre capacity tanker used for illegal oil bunkering in Rivers State.
It said three suspects were arrested in the illicit activity at a pipeline right of way between the Obiri-Ikwerre flyover near the renamed Obafemi Awolowo International Airport, Ikwerre Local Government Area.
The Commander, 6 Division Garrison, Brig. Gen. Eddie Effiong, disclosed this during a media briefing at the scene of the crime on Monday.
Effiong, who is also the Commander of Sector 3 Operation Delta Safe Joint Task Force, said he was marvelled by the boldness of the suspects carrying out the illegal activity in the heart of the town.
“In the early hour of today (Monday) around 2:30 am, we got information that some people are into illegal bunkering activities.
“We sent out troops to investigate, which led to us arresting this 45,000-litre capacity tanker and it is a 50-metre Shell Petroleum Development Company right of way of oil facilities.
“They bore a hole and started drilling the oil. The three suspects have been arrested with the products and equipment they used in the illegal activities, “ Effiong stated.
Effiong said residents and those doing business around the area must be complicit in the crime for failing to alert security agencies to the illegal activities.
He called on members of the public to volunteer useful information to the security agencies when they observe strange movements in their neighbourhood.