File photo: Nigeria soldiers on patrol in Niger Delta creeks
WARRI- Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities (NDEN) have exposed soldiers involvement in the illicit oil bunkering deal in Niger Delta which they smiled to the banks share of the proceeds from the oil racket.
The Niger Delta ethnic nationalities in a heavily worded press statement signed by its National President general, Barr. Pereotubo Oweilaemi and its national secretary general,Capt. Bassey Hensaw respectively have raised the alarm that soldier working Niger Delta under the pretense of fighting illegal bunkering are deceiving the authorities in Abuja and that they are the ones protecting and guarding the illegal bunkering activities as collaborators in the crime
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It has gotten to an alarming rate for concerned citizens of Nigeria to rise in defence of the bastardisation of the Niger Delta environment over the activities of illegal bunkering. Though illegal crude oil bunkering activities started at the time of oil boom in the 70s, the current trend in which security agencies have deeply hand in glove with some other cabals in the business is becoming worrisome.
Granted that the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), code named: “Operation Delta Safe” was created by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2003 to curb oil thieves among other sundry security issues in the Niger Delta, we are surprised that the Task Force is now encouraging illegal bunkering activities in the region, while blaming its adverse effects on the pauperised oil bearing communities.
The economic sabotage being perpetrated by the JTF under the command of Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi in the name of securing the nation’s crude oil facilities has informed the Youths Presidents of the various ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta to jointly address this world press conference. The said illegal bunkering activities are taking place in our terrains which have hitherto destroyed our biodiversity. Therefore, we are in a better position to tell the world who and who is actually involved in it.
There are high level of illegal bunkering activities in the region being carried out by some powerful forces in the Country in collaboration with foreigners. Oil tankers are coming to the region with fake voucher from the NNPC to load crude oil with the gleeful eyes of the JTF. The lost in crude oil outputs daily to the illegal bunkering activities are as a result of these foreign invaders. Everyday the JTF has been accusing the local communities of oil theft but to our chagrin, it has not spoken about the high level illegal bunkering activities of these economic saboteurs in the high sea which the military is aware of. We make bold to say that the military Joint Task Force is part of the cabals that are sabotaging our economy.
It is pertinent to ask some rhetorical questions here: if the security forces are not offering protection/escort services to those allegedly responsible for oil thefts then why movements of vessels with those stolen crude have not been detected? Why is it that vessel movements of the oil thieves occurs unnoticed in the region despite heightened activities in large scale illegal bunkering in the midst of an increased security presence?
Presently, we have some identified spots where these illegal activities are taking place. In Rivers State, the coastal fringes at Bonny and Bille are being identified as illegal bunkering spots where the crude oil trunk lines are being punctured by these saboteurs to pilfer away the black gold. Also in Nembe in Bayelsa State and other coastal communities across the region are being flooded with the illegal bunkering activities with an identified trunk lines that have been pigeonholed by the oil thieves to siphon the oil. It is disheartening that foreigners can enter the nation’s coast without entry permit to carryout illegal activities yet the security agencies keep aloof to these day time robbery.
The purpose for which the Task Force is being created has been defeated since it has failed to secure the nation’s oil facilities. There is no gainsaying the fact that, while governments and oil companies have been spending billions of naira on the security agencies to protect the oil facilities in the region, what the Country achieve in return is the steady lost of crude oil outputs daily to saboteurs. It is an aberration that in spite of these broad day robbery of the oil outputs, no single high profile illegal bunkerers have been arrested by the Task Force.
We demand that Rear Admiral Apochi should be removed from his vintage position having comprised his office. We have it on good authority that the security agencies have recruited some miscreants who called themselves as federal Task force to be mediating with these bunkerers on behalf of the JTF. The way foreigners are allowed to enter the shores of Nigeria to transact this illegal business, we fear that our Country is in grave danger to external invasion.
There is need to overhaul the security architectures in the region especially now that elections are fast approaching. Niger Delta region is not secure from external invasion because illegal immigrants have been entering our coast to transact this illegal business with their Nigerian counterparts.
We also demand that the security of these oil facilities should be carried out in partnership with the host communities. The Federal Government should engage the host communities for the protection of oil facilities. The money being spent on the military Task Force is enough to carry out developmental projects in the region. It is more secure but less expensive for the government to engage the host communities to secure the oil facilities. Our people know where the pipelines are crisscrossing in the region including the ones in the high sea. It is risky for the nation and a waste of the taxpayers’ money for the government to keep the present security personnel in the region. There should be an immediate change of button if the government must win the battle against crude oil theft.
Signed for and on behalf of the Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities,
Pereotubo Oweilaemi, Esq.,
Capt. Bassey Hensaw,