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Curbing oil theft

THE arrest of a Greek-owned oil vessel on  Wednesday, March 31st 2010 at the Lagosgbene Creek of Brass, Bayelsa state by operatives of the Joint Military Task Force came as welcome news. It shows that our security personnel in the strategic oil producing zone of our country are still very alert and alive to their responsibilities.

Media reports had it that the vessel, MT Glory, owned by a Greek firm, Blossom SA, carried within its hold about 800 metric tonnes of crude oil reportedly pilfered from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, a division of Italian-owned Eni Spa.

According to the report, when the arrest was effected only one person, a Myanmar ( Burma ) national, Minzau Tinmaungaw was found on board. The rest of the thieves have dived overboard and escaped. The story has both an encouraging and a disheartening ring to it.

The sad part was that some unnamed highly placed individuals had made contact with the military officers having custody of the detained ship, offering to pay huge sums of money for its release. But the gladdening aspect was that the Brass Sector Commander of the JTF, Col. Victor Ezeogu, reportedly rejected a mouth watering sum of two million naira for the release of the ship. A military spokesman, Col. Timothy Antigha, told newsmen that the vessel had the capacity to load over 2,000 metric tonnes.

Let us commend the alertness and patriotic handling of this incident by our military officers. This goes to show that not every officer sent to secure our economic assets in the Niger Delta region is on a mission of self-enrichment. Stories are often told of how officers pay huge sums of money to be posted to the Niger Delta region on national duty in order to join the rest of the criminals in sabotaging our national commonwealth upon which the whole nation depends for its survival.

It was these unpatriotic elements that also bolstered the bravado of the ex-militants by allowing them the elbow room to conduct their rebellious activities. It also made it possible for them to acquire the sophisticated weaponry they used against the interests of their motherland.

Now that the rebellion is over consequent upon the amnesty offer, majority of the ex-militants have rejoined normal society and are part, once again, of efforts to rebuild the nation. But is only natural to expect that a few wild hairs, both among the ex-militants and also our military forces, will still like to go behind and continue acts of piracy and smuggling of crude oil in conjunction with foreign criminal interests.

We are happy to hear that the JTF will soon hand over the arrested vessel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). We suggest that all those connected with this crime and other similar acts of national sabotage should be fished out and subjected to the full weight of the law.

We call on the military authorities to proactively reward their officers and men who, like in this episode, shunned filthy bribes, opting to perform their patriotic duty. There must be adequate incentives to encourage our officers and men to bring out the best in the service of their fatherland.


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