76 held for oil theft in Nigeria

Abuja, April 28 (IANS) Nigerian troops operating in the oil-rich Niger delta region have arrested 76 suspects and seized two boats used for oil bunkering, the military said Sunday.

The anti-theft operation that began April 15 ended Saturday, Xinhua quoted Lt-Col Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesperson for the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), as saying in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa state.

He said the vessel MT Shandy with 12 crew members was intercepted on Otokomabie Creek.

Nwachukwu said eight of the 12 crew members were currently being interrogated, while the four others were left behind to man the vessel.

He said the JTF also impounded a barge at an illegal oil loading point in Brass area of Bayelsa.

The barge had 50,000 litres of suspected stolen crude oil, he said.

Nwachukwu said the task force intercepted and destroyed 61 boats, transporting suspected stolen petroleum products.

The Nigerian Senate said in March that it would not hesitate to endorse death penalty for oil theft in the West African country.

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