The authorities of the Joint Military Task Force, JTF, codenamed operation Pulo Shield has destroyed two impounded vessels laden with 1.2 metric Tonnes of illegally acquired crude oil at the Sagana River off the Coast of Akassa River Bayelsa State.
The operatives also arrested the vessels owner, Mr.Joshua Timonthy Orupere who attempted to bribe the Chief the Staff, JTF, Col Azuntoa with the sum of $30,300 US dollars.
The two vessels named MV Premier and MV Somtrans with stolen crude oil estimated at 600,000 metric tones each were intercepted at the Sangana Kamboro creek by a joint operation by the 343 Artillery Regiments and the sub-Sector two operatives led by Muktar Adamu in the early hours of Saturday.
The operation according to the JTF, lasted two days and with the help of four newly acquired AK 38 Army Boat from the office of the Chief Army Staff, Lieutenant General Azubike Ijerika.
According to the spokesperson of the JTF, Lt. Col. Onyeka Nwachukwu, the seizure of the vessels and arrest of Joshua Orupere were part of the sustained security operation against illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta region, “the suspect has confessed to the crime and admitted being in charge of the arrested vessels at the time it was intercepted”.
According to him,”Let me use this opportunity to remind the perpetrators of this nefarious act that the JTF is not sleeping. Our men are taking adequate step to ensure that the Niger Delta area, both land and sea is extensively policed. I urge them to seek another means of livelihood as we will make the business of illegal bunkering very difficult and uncomfortable for them to carry out.”
In his swift reaction, the arrested owner of the seized vessels, Mr. Joshua Sopere said though one of the vessel was put in his care by one retired Air Force Commander from Sagana community of Brass Local Government (names withheld), the vessels were in his (Joshua) care at the time of arrest, adding however, that the vessels were condemned but converted to barges, saying, “I work for persons within and outside the region”.
He denied ever meeting the JTF Chief of Staff before but only met him with the link provided by the retired Air force Commander, stressing that he was advised to raise money and offer as bribe which made him to go to Port Harcourt to raise over $30,000USD.
Both vessels were also set on fire by JTF gallant officers before the owner, Joshua Orupere, 40 yrs, who hail from Ekeremor in Bayelsa State at about 2pm Monday.