The task force also recovered more than 25,000 tonnes of crude oil were recovered from them.
Tukur Buratai, the Commander of the 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt and Sector Two of the task force, which covers Rivers and Bayelsa, told newsmen in Port Harcourt on Tuesday that the suspects were arrested in the early hours of Monday.
Burutai explained that two vessels, MT Oxo and MT Ane, being used for the illicit activity, had also been recovered from the suspects.
He stated that members of the task force were informed by some residents of Awoba community about the breach of a Shell-owned pipeline by suspected oil thieves, and that they immediately swung into action and arrested the suspects in the act.
“We will interrogate all the suspects and, after that, we will hand them over to the appropriate government agency for prosecution.
“Since we took over the operation of the JTF, we have been fighting illegal bunkering, piracy, some elements of militancy, as well as illegal refineries popularly known as cooking pots. We have really reduced them drastically.
“As they come up, we strike and ensure that we reduce them to the barest minimum and you can see our efforts are paying off. The level of crude oil stealing has drastically reduced.
“We are not only restricted within the creeks and rivers around, but we are also on land.”
The JTF commander urged the public to always volunteer useful information to security agencies on the activities of oil thieves and other criminals sabotaging oil installations in the Niger Delta area.