…Accuses security agents of aiding illegal oil bunkering
Port Harcourt — The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, has announced plans to collaborate with Six Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, in the fight against oil theft, illegal refining and bunkering of petroleum products in the country.
Special Assistant to IPMAN National President, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, on Anti-pipeline Vandalism and Petroleum Products Monitoring, Alhaji Musa Saidu, disclosed this while speaking with our correspondent in Port Harcourt.
He said the Federal government must take proactive steps by ensuring the penalty for oil theft is a long jail term, to serve as deterrence to those planning to engage in the crime.
Saidu, who accused security agents of escorting illegally refined petroleum products for smooth movement across the country, called for the redeployment of security officers that have stayed in the Niger Delta region “for some time”.
He alleged that oil companies, security agents and oil thieves collaborate to perpetuate oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
Said he: “Why illegal oil bunkering is thriving when we have the JTF, Nigerian Army Six Division, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, IG monitoring team on illegal bunkering, is because these people have comprised their position.
“IG monitoring team, their jobs is to escort bunkering trucks, which I have told the IG himself. Then you will see them fighting among Army, NSCDC and Police over who will be in charge, because it has become a business”.
He continued: “If you go to Mbiama, five kilometres to JTF headquarters, serious bunkering is going on there. If you go to New Road in Borokiri, every compound is a bunkering site. If go to Elechi Beach, heavy bunkering activities are going on there; bunkering is ongoing in Woji by the bridge. Even the oil that government imports through Okrika jetty, they will steal it.
“So if you look at it, illegal oil bunkering has now become an official business. You will be shocked that oil companies are patronising illegally refined products to power their generators.
“All security officers that have overstayed here should be redeployed, because they won’t change. Oil bunkering has become parts of their business. Not only in the Army but in Civil Defence, Police and IG monitoring team.
“Since we have a new GOC (Nigerian Army, Six Division Port Harcourt), let all the officers too be new people, because those old officers sometimes when you report bunkering activities to them, they will go behind you to inform the bunkerers.
“We will partner with the new GOC to end oil theft in this region. Majority of the trucks apprehended by security agencies, we provided information that led to their arrest.”
Saidu who is also the Chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum for South South and South-East, reiterated the need for heavy penalty to dissuade people from getting involved in the act of oil theft.
“Our agenda is to ensure that this bunkering issue is minimised because it cannot be stopped completely. You cannot fight bunking unless the security agencies are willing to do so, or when there is penalty for it. Bunkering activities are going on unabated because nobody has been penalized, the government is only shouting.
“Penalty for oil theft should be a long jail term not this one that the court will fined you N50,000 which means they are encouraging you to go and do more bunkering. The punishment should conform with the crime and deter one from going back to it, because it is economic sabotage. From reports, Nigeria lost billions of dollars in six months to oil theft.”