Oil Theft: Army uncovers illegal bunkering site in Port Harcourt

Mkpoikana Udoma 03 September 2015, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Nigerian Army says it has uncovered massive illegal oil bunkering site situated one kilometre away from the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, location in Port Harcourt.

JTF destroys illegal crude oil refineries, crude oil laden bargesCommander of 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, Brigadier General Stevenson Olabanji said thousands of litres of illegally refined diesel were discovered at the site.

He said army operatives were, following a tip-off from good Nigerians, immediately deplored to the site at Magcobar Beach, which is less than two kilometres away, from the Rivers State Government House.

According to him, “About 16:40 hours on Monday (August 31), we got an information that some illegal bunkering activities were going on along Magcobar Beach.

“On arrival, our personnel discovered illegal activities which involved bunkering (of illegally refined petroleum products) and lifting of diesel to local boats.

“At the site, we found over 5,000 drums loaded with illegally refined diesel; four tanker trucks containing 132,000 litres of diesel combined and a barge with 165,000 litres of stolen diesel.

“This discovery is unprecedented because since we started our operations 10 days ago, this is about the biggest that we have uncovered,” he said.

Olabanji said that 150 drums loaded with about 3,150 litres of diesel was also discovered in 21 Cotonou boats.

He explained that 13 suspects were arrested at the scene of the illegal facility, but the illegal bunkering site has not yet been set ablaze (in line with the Joint Task Force mandate) because of its closeness to residential buildings and the NPA.

“Our mandate requires us to destroy the site at once, but we cannot do this because it will degrade the environment and affect residents as it is situated in the heart of Port Harcourt.

“Our plan is to move them to a safe location for destruction,” he said.

The commander said that preliminary investigation had already begun to unravel sponsors of the facility, adding that the 13 suspects would be handed over to relevant authorities for further investigation and prosecution.

Olabanji, who called on members of the public to provide the JTF with timely information which could lead to the arrest of oil thieves and pipeline vandals, warned against sabotage of oil and gas installations by oil thieves, and assured that the JTF would not relent in its task to rid the state of illegal bunkering activities.

“Let it be known that the army will not and will never tolerate illegal bunkering in our area of responsibility,” he assured.

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