The Defence Headquarters says the troops of Operations Delta Safe, AWATSE and others have sustained the fight against economic sabotage to secure critical oil infrastructure in the South-South and South West zones of the country.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, disclosed this while giving an update on the operations of the armed forces between Nov. 26 and Dec. 2 on Thursday in Abuja.
Mr Enenche said that troops of Operation Delta Safe had on Nov. 26 intercepted and arrested one large wooden boat laden with 229 drums of 300 litres of PMS with two suspects, outboard engines and pumping machines.
He said that troops destroyed two reactivated illegal refining sites containing four boilers, six storage tanks and one wooden boat laden with illegally refined oil products around Oputumbi in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers.
He also disclosed that troops immobilised two reactivated illegal refining sites containing three boilers and five storage tanks laden with crude oil around Orutoru in the same local government area.
“In another development, troops of 146 Battalion discovered and immobilised four illegal refineries containing seven boilers, seven hoses, pumping machines, three reservoirs and eight storage tanks.
“It also had a wooden boat loaded with illegally refined oil products around Alakiri, Cowthorne Channel 3, Asarama-Toru and Oputumbi in Okirika and Bonny Local Government Areas.
“Also, troops of 103 Battalion immobilised a wooden boat loaded with illegally refined AGO around KM 45 in Degema Local Government Area of the state,” he said.
The Coordinator also disclosed that troops of Operations Calm Waters II and Swift Response impounded about 130 bags of 50kg of foreign parboiled rice and arrested 10 suspects during the period.
He said that three wooden boats loaded with 34,800 litres of PMS with five outboard engines and 2 pumping machines were also recovered.
In the South West, Enenche said that troops of Operation AWATSE intercepted six trucks loaded with stolen petroleum products at Arepo following intensified surveillance by the troops within the general area.
According to him, troops moved swiftly to the area, met vandals loading their trucks with the fuel and arrested 10 of them with six trucks.
Mr Enenche said that the Nigerian Navy conducted a 3-Day Exercise Shark Shiver in collaboration with the Italian Naval Ship FEDRERICO MARTINENGO during the week.
He said the exercise was activated at the Western Naval Command Area of Responsibility and participated by NNS PROSPERITY, NGURU, EKULU, KARADUWA and OSE with a detachment of Special Boat Service elements.
He said that various scenarios such as anti-piracy, rig protection, Visit Board Search and Seizure (Opposed and unopposed), communication drills, Search and Rescue, among others were simulated during the exercise.
According to him, in the course of the exercise, NNS EKULU was deployed for a Search and Rescue mission for the rescue of MT STELIOS K that was reportedly boarded by pirates at the Togo/Ghana maritime border.
“It would be recalled that MT STELIOS K was reported to be possibly hijacked on Nov. 16 in Togo/Ghana border about 55 nautical miles off Lome and 90 nautical miles south of Tema.
“All efforts to track the vessel proved abortive as her Automatic Identification System was switched off.
“Further tracking revealed that the vessel transited from Ghanaian, Togolese and Beninese waters before arriving Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, the Italian Naval Ship MARTINEGO and the Nigerian Navy ships operated jointly to track the vessel location and a helicopter from Italian Naval Ship MARTINENGO spotted the ship at about 188 nautical miles south of Lagos with only two crew members onboard.
“The pirates had apparently left the ship after kidnapping 3 members of the crew.
“Subsequently, NNS EKULU intercepted and escorted the vessel and handed over to NNS BEECROFT for further investigations and the exercise was deactivated on Nov. 26,” he said.