The Joint Task Force (JTF) operating in the Niger Delta has destroyed 3,778 illegal refineries, Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada, said on Friday.
The minister, who was speaking at a Ministerial Platform in Abuja, said the task force had also destroyed militant camps at Oron in Akwa Ibom State and Ikang in Cross River State.
Obada said the illegal refineries were destroyed within the last one year.
According to the minister, the task force known as Operation PULO SHIELD, was established with the aim of protecting oil installations and curbing oil theft.
She noted that there had been better protection of oil and gas facilities as a result of increased air and ground patrols of pipeline networks to deter vandals from sabotage activities.
Obada said troops were now deployed on the most needed areas on a 24-hour basis to enhance their security.
Said the minister: “While criminality in the industry has not been completely eliminated, efforts of the Joint Task Force had reduced the level of crude oil theft drastically within the period under review.
“And the conduct of` incisive anti-illegal oil bunkering patrols led to the arrest of 1,653 suspects and destruction of 3, 778 illegal refineries within the past one year.
“Similarly, 120 barges, 878 Cotonou boats, 161 tanker trucks, 178 illegal fuel dumps and 5,238 surface tanks were destroyed by the Joint Task Force,” she added.
Giving details of the closure of militant camps, Obada said the JTF destroyed militant camps in Feropa, Bayelsa State as well as Ojoma Creek and Ferukpakame Community in River State.
According to the minister, following the declaration of State of Emergency in three states by President Goodluck Jonathan, Operation BOYANA was established to curtail the excesses of the Boko Haram sect, pointing out that the operation had been successful as the insurgents had been dislodged from their strong hold at Sambisa forest.
Obada said that restoration of normalcy and confidence building between the troops and the populace and the operations of the joint task force had made Maiduguri and environs untenable for the miscreants.
She also highlighted other successes achieved by the joint task force to include the destruction of some identified Improvised Explosives (IEDS) production factories and the recovery of large caches of arms, ammunition and explosives.
Obada said the JTF had also identified, monitored and controlled the influx of illegal immigrants into Borno and the repatriation of some aliens.