Pirates kill two soldiers as troops destroy 13 refineries

  • As EFCC moves seized $43m, £27,000, N23m to CBN

Hoodlums, suspected to be sea robbers, have killed two soldiers and injured three others in a boundary area between Bayelsa and Rivers states.

The soldiers were said to be attached to the troops of the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, with headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

It was learnt that the incident, which took place on Wednesday, occurred around Ijawkiri General area, a border community between Kalabari in Rivers and Nembe in Bayelsa.

The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Major Abubakar Abdullahi, confirmed the attack in a statement on Thursday.

Abdullahi said, ‘’Sadly, our troops deployed in Creek 6 Houseboat, Cawthorne Channel, while responding to a distress call of sea robbers attack around the Ijawkiri General area, engaged heavily armed sea robbers.

‘’Unfortunately, two gallant soldiers exhibited the highest level of patriotism by paying the supreme price, while three others sustained gunshot injuries.

‘’Effort is ongoing by the JTF to track and apprehend the criminals.’’

The coordinator also said that the troops, in continuation of their drive to accomplish their mandate in the region, uncovered and destroyed 13 illegal refineries in the Iyalama Adama area of Rivers.

He, however, said no arrest was made during the destruction of the refineries.

Meanwhile, an operative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, attached to the Bayelsa State Command, and a suspected armed robber, were killed in a gun battle.

It was learnt that the incident took place along Kolo Creek, in the Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.

It was learnt that a gang of suspected armed robbers operating in the area had lay in ambush for a patrol van of the NSCDC operatives.

The armed robbers reportedly lay in ambush for the civil defence officers after allegedly attacking a police checkpoint along the road.

A security source claimed that the suspected robbers caught the policemen off guard and succeeded in forcing them to surrender their weapons around 12pm on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the knotty question has to who owns the huge cash recovered from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos remained unanswered, but the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) moved the cash to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Besides, it:

  • obtained a court order for the temporary seizure of the $43million, N23million and £27,000;
  • quizzed a former Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), who was suspected of being the owner of the cash; and
  • planned to review the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) of the building to determine the identity of a “haggard-looking” woman who is said to have been bringing in sacks (suspected to be holding the cash) into the apartment.

The apartment on 6, Osborne Road, Ikoyi is under surveillance by EFCC operatives.

Although three highly-placed Nigerians have been linked with the seized cash, they have all denied having anything to do with the money.

They are a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alh. Adamu Mua’zu; former PPMC boss, Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, and the Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District, Solomon Adeola.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday sacked Nnamdi-Ogbue as part of the organisation’s ongoing reforms. But there were speculations that she may have been fired over the “missing” 130 million litres of fuel kept with Capital Oil and Gas Limited.

The EFCC, after a tip-off, recovered the money from an apartment in House 16, Osborne Road in Ikoyi on Lagos Island.

The anti-graft commission yesterday secured a court order of interim forfeiture of the cash.

The EFCC quizzed Nnamdi-Ogbue yesterday in Abuja over the cash.

Prior to her grilling, EFCC operatives raided her Maitama District home in Abuja.

She denied owning the $43.4million.

It was gathered that the invitation of the ex-NNPC director followed a report that she is a tenant in House 16.

According to EFCC, it sought for an interim forfeiture pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act 2006.

Punch with additional report from Nation