Media reports from Nigeria today suggest that the Joint Task Force (JTF) have been in action again.
According to the reports, a JTF patrol boat in Robot creek, Nembe, was attacked by a group of 30 pirates in two speed boats. The pirates (or robbers, given the location was riverine rather than blue water) were armed with AK47s and according to JTF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Mustapha Anka, they opened fire on the JTF. During the firefight, three pirates were reportedly killed and one solider wounded along with two boat operators. The pirates were apparently killed in a crossfire, although there are no details of how many JTF patrol boats were present.
As part of the same press conference, the Lt. Col. also revealed that the JTF had impounded seven speed boats loaded with jerry cans filled with illegal Automated Gas Oil, and arrested five suspects. He also said that JTF troops deployed at Patrick Water Side and Opobo Creek in Rivers State had destroyed a boat filled with suspected stolen crude oil, destroyed four wooden boats filled with crude at Baragbene community in Southern Ijaw and that nine Cotonou boats were impounded and an illegal refinery destroyed at Okpoko Creek in Warri South.
With last week’s report stating that Nigeria was losing $35 million a day to oil theft, it’s clear that the country’s anti-oil theft and counter piracy forces need to up their PR. Of course, this story comes just days after the Nigerian Navy arrested members of the Marine Police who were protecting an oil tanker. If Nigeria needs anything, it’s a unified approach to oil theft and piracy with all stakeholders working together. That, combined with a genuine attempt to root out corruption and prosecute the key players who are making the most out of oil theft is the only way to put an end to a crime which is robbing the country’s citizens of a valuable resource and huge amounts of money.