Men of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) yesterday recorded success in their mandate to put operators of illegal refineries out of business. They uncovered a filling station, Nenco Oil, alleg-edly used by suspected oil thieves as a cover for illegal business. The JTF officials also arrested the two suspected oil thieves - Edwin Nnana and Bernard Eze. The suspects were said to be using the filling station to refine crude oil.
The back of the filling station accessed by two gates on the left and right extremes, is a large expanse of land littered with crude storage tanks, underground tanks, dugs, liquid pumps, pipes and other paraphernalia used to refine crude. Investigation by National Mirror indicated that the filling station is always without fuel to sell to motorists, but tankers were always seen loading petroleum products there. The owner of the filling station and some others, who escaped through a back gate behind the station, is still at large.
The JTF men stormed the premises after a tip-off by members of the public. Aside the two suspects arrested, two tankers used to transport fuel were seized.
One of the tankers was empty, while the other was loaded with 33, 000 litres of illegally refined AGO (diesel). The JTF also recovered a fire fighting truck loaded with diesel, and several vehicles suspected to be used in transporting stolen crude to the illegal refinery.
The Army Public Relations Officer (APRO), 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Maj. Michael Etete, said that oil thieves were ruining the nation’s economy and that the JTF would not relent in its efforts to ensure that they were put out of business.
Etete said: “Any tanker carrying illegally refined products will not escape the scrutiny of the JTF.” The arrested suspects, however, told journalists that they were not aware that their employer’s business was against the law.

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