27 March 2014, Ughelli – Two patrol tankers allegedly used for crude oil theft have been burnt by men of the Joint Task Force, JTF in Awirhe, Agbarha-Otor, Ughelli North Local Government Area, Delta State.
The tankers were impounded by the military personnel on the Ozoro/Kwale Road, Ndokwa West Local Government Area of the state. Though no arrest was made, a short locally made gun, a live cartridge and vehicle documents were recovered during a search on the tankers.
Commanding Officer of the 222 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Col Victor Ibeh, who addressed newsmen shortly before the vehicles were set ablaze, said “We acted on a tip-off. The trucks were used for pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering activities while the perpetrators tampered with oil pipelines.”
Saying that the perpetrators took to their heels on sighting the troops, Ibeh said “during interrogation and proper investigation one Mr. Andrew Osagie, who claimed to be the Manager of a company in Benin City, Edo State tried to compromise my men to release the trucks and the investigating officer played along with him and he agreed to offer N7million for the release of the vehicles.
“And in the course of this also, N3m cash was offered by him and a post dated cheque of N1.5m. However, he also promised to bring the balance of the money to secure the release of the trucks. I think along the line, he got clue that he was in trouble and up till date, nobody has sighted him.
“Having made no arrest and this principal suspect, who we are trying to nab, has also escaped. In the course of doing our job, it is in line with JTF mandate that these two tankers were set ablaze without wasting any further time. And doing that, our headquarters were informed, while we continue the search to ensure that pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkery and theft were eradicated within the unit area of our responsibility.
“Again, during this investigation, we were able to get the passport photographs of the drivers, who operated the vehicles from Mr. Osagie. We are not relenting in our efforts as we will continue to search for them to ensure that they face the wrath of the law.”
– Festus Ahon, Vanguard