The Joint Military Force (JMF) in the Niger Delta has arrested 16 suspects who allegedly vandalised pipelines and engaged in illegal bunkering in Delta State.

Spokesman of Operation Pulo Shield, the task force, Col. Isa Ado, who made this known at a press conference at the 222 Battalion Headquarters in Ughelli in Delta, said that the suspects were nabbed in two separate operations within the state.

According to him, in one of the operations led by Lt-Col. Mathew Oyekola, Commanding Officer, 222 Battalion, the force recovered 124 pieces of oil pipes valued at over N18 million at Otokutu village in Ughelli. The pipes meant for a project at Aburah, were stolen from the oil fields operated by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). Four suspects, including an NPDC staffmber, were arrested.

Meanwhile, other items recovered included a Toyota Sports Utility Van (SUV) kept at the 222 battalion headquarters. Ado said that in the second operation

“our troops from the Maritime Component, NNS DELTA, found and destroyed many illegal oil bunkering sites between April 22 and 24.

“The sites were located around Tagola community, near Egwa 1 in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta and items recovered include six 10,000 litres capacity storage tanks, 30 drums and plastic tanks containing substances suspected to be stolen crude.

He also said 12 suspects were arrested along SPDC-Forcados Line with two large boats carrying 39 plastic tanks filled with illegally refined diesel and 13 pumping machines. “The items and suspects are in custody of NNS DELTA for preliminary investigations,” he explained.

He urged community leaders to discourage their youths from vandalism and assist the force with credible information that will lead to arrest of culprits. He reassured them that the JMF, under the command of Maj.-Gen. Alani Okunlola, would continue to carry out its operations professionally as enshrined in its mandate.