14 April 2016, Port Harcourt – In its continued fight against oil theft, the Nigerian Navy has arrested five suspected oil thieves for allegedly stealing over 2,000 drums containing diesel.
The Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship, Pathfinder, Commodore Sanusi Ibrahim, who disclosed this to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Thursday, said the suspects were arrested following a tip-off from well-meaning Nigerians.
Ibrahim explained that his men had stormed a warehouse in Ogbogoro community in Port Harcourt to effect their arrest and impound the stolen oil.
Speaking though the Base Intelligence Officer of the NNS Pathfinder, Lt.-Cdr. Sunday Katuka, the Commander pointed out that about other suspects, who sighted the advancing operatives took to their heels.
According to Ibrahim, “Following intelligence tip-off, naval troops immediately raided a warehouse used by suspected oil thieves to store illegally refined petroleum products believed to have been stolen from pipelines.
“On arrival to the site, we found several storage compartments with petroleum products suspected to be Automated Gas Oil popularly known as diesel. The diesel was stored in more than 20 compartments and large polythene bags.
“Each compartment had about 100 storage drums with each containing 350 litres of illegally refined diesel. The drums and polythene bags contained an estimate of about one million litres of stolen diesel.”
Explaining that investigation was ongoing with a view to identifying sources and buyers of the suspected stolen oil, Ibrahim added that the other suspects were able to escape because the law did not permit the use of firearms in anti-bunkering venture.
He said, “Our findings revealed that most abandoned yards usually serve as refuge for criminals, who used such facilities for illegal bunkering activities and social crime.
“More raids will be conducted on suspected criminal hideouts in coming weeks. We will continue the fight against oil theft until illegal refining and bunkering are reduced to barest minimum.”
Pointing out that communities have an important role to play if the navy and other security agencies must succeed in the fight against oil theft, the NNS Pathfinder Commander noted that timely information on activities of oil thieves was vital.
In his remark, the Head of Anti-Vandal Unit, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Steven Morgan, Rivers Command, while receiving the suspects, promised that a thorough investigation would be done on the suspects and their illicit business.
Morgan explained that the NSCDC would charge the suspects to court if necessary at the end of the investigation.