The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo Shield, (Sector 3) in Calabar, the Cross River State capital has destroyed about 5,000 drums containing 225,000 litres of petroleum products worth N100 million, which it impounded from suspected bunkerers.
The destruction, it was gathered, took place at Ikang in Bakassi Local Government Area, under the supervision of members of the task force, who had cordoned off the area to prevent any eventuality by those involved in the illicit trade. Meanwhile, two of the bunkerers have been arrested and handed over to the Police for onward prosecution, following the destruction of the impounded petroleum products.
This is the second time in three months government is carrying out raid on the hideouts of illegal bunkering in the state. Last May, Governor Liyel Imoke, lead a team of security operatives to Akapabuyo and Bakassi Local Government Areas, where about 100 trucks were impounded and barges, drums, small boats destroyed.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the 13 Amphibious Brigade, Captain Joseph James, told journalists at Ikang, that the impounded products were recovered from those involved in bunkering after a careful monitoring of their activities, in an operation that was led by Major A. J Mohammed.
“Over 2,000 drums were intercepted in the water ways while the remaining number of over 3000 was seized on land. We mounted surveillance on them and caught them in the act,” he said.
He explained that the Task Force was out to nip in the bud, the nefarious activities of the bunkerers, warning that it would not relent in its efforts to rid the nation’s territorial waters of economic saboteurs. James also revealed that Operation Pulo Shield, which covers Cross River and Akwa Ibom States had the mandate to provide and strengthen security as well as curb illegal bunkering within the two states.
The JTF spokesman further alleged that a filling station in Bakassi known as ACODOF Oil Nigeria Limited was being used as depot for storing the illegally acquired petroleum product from where purchases are made especially in the night.
He restated the resolve of the army and the task force in bringing to an end the activities of those engaged in illegal bunkering because such could as jeopardise the nation’s economy.
Reacting to the development, some residents of the Ikang area bemoaned the increase in the activities of petroleum thieves and commended the effort of the JTF in checking the illegal business. They blamed the increase on the porous nature of the water ways, a development that has made it possible for sea piracy to thrive unchecked.