The Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) yesterday paraded 14 suspected oil thieves and impounded an vessel code named Princes Nnenna that conveyed 35 tonnes of diesel and crude oil along Manson creek ,near Brass, Bayelsa State.
Among the suspects included a notorious female bunkerer , Hajia Ladia and the Managing Director of the seized vessel whose identity was not disclosed.
Operatives of the JTF destroyed seven large wooden boats used by the bunkerers in trans-loading the crude to the vessel.
Addressing journalists at Brass yesterday, Commander of 343 Battalion of Sector Two ,JTF and leader of the troops that arrested the suspects, Lt. Col Muktar Adamu, said they were nabbed while trans-loading the crude from the large wooden boats to the bigger vessel.
“We are ready for the fight to finish in the battle against illegal refineries and oil bunkering in the region’, Adamu said.
The JTF official said the vessel belonged to Magnum International Limited.
Adamu further disclosed that some hoses used by the bunkerers in trans-loading the crude were found in the vessel ,stressing that no weapon or arms were recovered during the operation.
In the same vein, Spokesman of JTF, Lt Col Onyema Nwachukwu said the suspects would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.
He said: “We brought you here to parade the vessel and the suspects. We are ready for the war against illegal refineries and oil thefts in the region. We are not EFCC, ours is not to prosecute suspects, but ensure their arrest”.
In an interview, Capt. of the vessel, James Ofoetsoye said he was directed by Hajia Ladi to refuel his vessel at Manson Creek before they were arrested by the JTF.
The father of eight children pleaded for leniency, saying that this was his first involvement in illegal oil bunkering.