An aircraft from the air component of Operation Delta Safe has targeted and bombed three boats reportedly involved in stealing crude oil from a pipeline in Rivers State. The incident took place during an operation conducted in a riverine area between Bonny Island and the southern part of Port Harcourt on Saturday.
The Director of Public Relations and Information for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, explained that the crew of the aircraft identified and destroyed an active illegal refining site loaded with suspected illegal refined products at the Idama area of Rivers.
In the ongoing efforts against criminal activities in the Niger Delta Region, the Air Component of Operation Delta Safe continues to carry out impactful strikes. One such operation occurred on Saturday, August 5, 2023, approximately 4 nautical miles southeast of Bille, a riverine area located to the west of Bonny Island and south of Port Harcourt, within Rivers State.
The aerial strikes became imperative upon the detection of three boats tapping crude oil from a pipeline. Consequently, the boats were engaged and neutralized by the aircraft. While en route to Port Harcourt, the crew also spotted an active illegal refining site with tanks and reservoirs containing suspected illegal refined products, situated about four miles southeast of Idama in Rivers State. This site was subsequently targeted and destroyed, as stated in a statement by Gabkwet on Monday.
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In response to these operations, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, has instructed all air component commanders across the country to collaborate with other security agencies to sustain aerial strikes against criminal elements.
“The era of treating criminal elements in our nation leniently is over. We must persist in this direction until we bring them all to justice,” he emphasized.
In a separate development, the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, stationed in Port Harcourt, reported the confiscation of a 45,000-liter capacity tanker used for illegal oil bunkering in Rivers State. Three suspects were apprehended during the illegal activity at a pipeline right of way near the Obiri-Ikwerre flyover, close to the renamed Obafemi Awolowo International Airport in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Brigadier General Eddie Effiong, the Commander of the 6 Division Garrison and also the Commander of Sector 3 Operation Delta Safe Joint Task Force, expressed astonishment at the audacity of the suspects engaging in illegal activity within the heart of the town.
“In the early hours of today (Monday) around 2:30 am, we received information about illegal bunkering activities. Our troops were dispatched for investigation, leading to the arrest of these individuals and the 45,000-liter capacity tanker. This incident occurred within a 50-meter Shell Petroleum Development Company right-of-way for oil facilities. They had drilled a hole and begun extracting oil. The three suspects were apprehended with the seized products and equipment used for their illicit activities,” Effiong elaborated.
Effiong raised concerns about the possible complicity of local residents and businesses in the area for failing to alert security agencies about the illegal activities. He appealed to the public to promptly share valuable information with security agencies if they notice any suspicious movements in their neighborhoods.