Suspected oil thieves, security agents clash in Delta

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By Emma Amaize & Akpokona Omafuaire

WARRI—MEMBERS of an armed  crude oil bunkering syndicate yesterday attacked security agents and a community vigilance group at Ovwian in  Delta State for the destruction their boat  and unlawfully refined products by Oil Facility Surveillance Limited, OFSL, Warri, the company contracted by the Federal Government to protect oil pipelines in the state.

Confrontation

However, OFSL, in collaboration with the Ovwian vigilance group, confronted the suspected oil thieves and rounded up three of them, while others managed to escape.

The suspected oil thieves, all of Ijaw ethnic extraction, aged 39, 24 and 23 respectively,  were furious that the patrol team of OFSL destroyed their locally made boat, loaded with a large quantify of refined products at Ovwian River.

Breakthrough

General Manager, OFSL, Mr. Kestin Pondi, who was represented by his special adviser, Mr. Sheriff Chukwuma, told reporters: “This is a major breakthrough in our war against illegal bunkering. They operate at mid night with cooperation of some security agents.

“At about 3.00 am, our patrol team at Ovwian River ran into them (oil thieves). They fled, leaving the boat and our men destroyed it.

“While still patrolling the river in the morning, our men got information that some suspected oil thieves had engaged Ovwian vigilante in a fierce battle, so we mobilized and got there. Three of them were arrested,  but the others fled away in a T-23 boat. We shall hand the suspects over to Police for prosecution.”

A member of the vigilance group, Prince Federal Gboko, said:  “At about 6.00 am,  this morning (yesterday),  I got a distress call that some armed men were in battle with my colleagues, saying we burnt their boat, and  they took one of our guns as the fight raged on.

“Our boys apprehended two of them after we called for back-up. They were taken to our town hall. Some policemen came and asked us if we were having internal crisis.

“As we were discussing, the boat, which conveyed the attackers, came again and we told the police that our gun was with them. We recovered the gun and arrested another member of the group.”

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