22 May 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Rivers State Chairman of Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, Comrade Lucky Etuokwu, has said the Nigerian Police Force should be held responsible for any form of hardship that may arise as a result of the indefinite strike action embarked by the union.
Etuokwu speaking to our correspondent on the telephone, explained that although its trucks impounded by the Nigerian Army has been released, the two trucks burnt by Policemen in Eleme, were yet to be replaced.
He said security agents, including Army, Police and Civil Defence, intimidate geniune tanker drivers while they take bribes to aide and abett illegal bunkerers of stolen petroleum products.
“Our trucks with the Army have been released, we are working to release the ones with Civil Defence but the two trucks burnt by the Police, nothing has been done bout it. We have not heard anything from them .
“It is unfortunate, but let members of the public be patient with us. You don’t know what tanker drivers are suffering from the hands of security agents. The ones doing illegal business (Kpo fire) move freely on the road becuase they have settled the security agents, but we that are doing legitimate business are being victimised because we don’t give them(security agents) money.
“If they are serious that they want to fight illegal bunkering, they should go to those places where these illegal products are being load. No illegal bunkering activities goes on without security agents’ awareness, sometimes it is even the security agents that escort and provide security for illegal bunkering activities to be carried out.”
Etuokwu who appealed to members of the public to bear with them while the srike last, said even the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is aware of the issue and the strike will go national if nothing is being done by Wednesday.
“Our major issue now is with the police, the Commissioner of Police is aware and nothing has been done, because when the incident happened, the cost of the trucks and the products inside it were summed up at N28million and the DPO offered to pay N10million, which we refused.
“Even the governor is aware of the issue, I was invited by the Chief of Staff on Friday and we presented everything to him. The strike is indefinite and if by Wednesday nothing is done, we will make it nationwide.”
Meanwhile the Nigerian Army, Six Division Port Harcourt, has said that it will be happy to work with the petroleum tanker drivers to weed out any corrupt personnel involved in illegalities on the roads.
Army Public Relations Officer, Sixth Division Port Harcourt, Aminu Illyasu, said going on strike will not solve the issue, but that tanker drivers should verify their claims that Army personnel on the roads were collecting bribes to aide illegal bunkerers.
“We don’t harass anybody that is law abiding. If people are into illegal business, security agents must come after them, if the say they are going on strike, it means that they want to legalise what is illegal by force.
“If they can verify these allegations, we are ready to act on it. We will even work with them to fish out our men that are collecting money, doing illegalities and giving them free way to pass. We will be happy to work with the petroleum tanker drivers. This current GOC is even more serious in taking up the issues of illegalities by our men, our doors are open to them.
“They should come forward and work with us, they should tell us what they are facing on the roads, they should tell us which checkpoints are receiving money from illegal bunkerers. We can even plant them and lay ambush to arrest any of our men collecting money to pass illegal bunkerers.
“How will going on strike solve the problem? They should come to us, their confidentially will be protected, they have every right to report any of our personnel or checkpoints.”