Earlier this week, Soldiers of the 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army led an operation consisting of members of the JTF dubbed “Operation Pulo Shield”. The team traced pipeline vandals to a swampy, wooded area in a village located in Ukwa-ngwa West Local Government Area of Abia State. Following a tip off, the soldiers located a clearing in the forest where the vandals assembled a sizeable reservoir of petrol all covered in reinforced tarpaulin.
The joint task force promptly burnt it down. The JTF also recovered items used in vandalizing pipelines. In previous raids, they have also confiscated oil tankers carrying illegal products, some of which are burnt with their contents.
One military source said, “some of the truck owners may not know that their drivers were using their trucks for such an illegal business, while some filling station owners have embraced it as a way of life as they connive with the locals where pipelines pass through their communities to break the NNPC pipes, siphon fuel, gas and even kerosene which they will overload and dispense at their filling stations to unsuspecting members of the public.
“When we arrest such trucks, the owners will start making calls either personally or using their connections in the state or Abuja to persuade us not to burn their tankers. Some of them will even go to the extent of threatening us. Some will brag that they will make sure that we were transferred from the command because they know one person in the state or the other. But we are not afraid of their threat as long as we are carrying out the orders that were given to us. Let them keep breaking the pipelines, we will keep clamping down on them and we will keep confiscating their materials and setting them ablaze, where necessary. There is no amount of their threat and pressures that will deter us from carrying out our jobs professionally.
The crude oil discovered at the makeshift farm in ukwa-ngwa was assessed as being 10,000 liters. They were all stored in two locally constructed reservoirs.