BY CHARLES KUMOLU
NIGER Delta Oil Theft Monitoring Group, NDOTMG, has petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan over alleged illegal oil bunkering in the Benin River Escravos axis, in the Niger Delta, noting that it was being done in collaboration with the country’s security agents.
It called on the Federal Government to replace all security agents in the riverine areas of the region, as they had betrayed the trust reposed in them.
It also called for the replacement of the Navy/Army personnel stationed in Madanghan/Chevron, alleging that they have been rent collectors from the local illegal refinery promoters.
The group, in the petition by Mr. Omasan Bemigho, said: “We wish to bring to your notice, as a matter of urgency, the breach of security and peace in Benin River Escravos axis, the increased illegal bunkering being facilitated in collaboration with security operatives that are supposed to enforce security in the area.
“Their activities are a clear manifestation of the level of disjointed commitment to a national call and security engagement which is characterised by greed.
“This notice has become necessary in view of the dangerous trend and dimension which their increased activities portend to the peace and security of the Niger Delta, the operations of the oil and gas companies as well as the shortfall in revenue accruing to Delta State and the country.
“There are four local refining camps in Uton Nana, where the illegal activities operate in connivance with security operatives stationed in the various locations. They include Abiteye, Didi, Olero, Bateren Tie, Ogheye (Benin River Entrance), Escravos Tank Farm. Despite all the security points and huge investment in the upkeep of the various boats and security personnel, illegal oil bunkers still have a free passage of their products to the high seas and illegal refineries.
“It has been discovered that behind the Ugbegugu community where there is an army checkpoint called SAHARA, opposite Chevron yard. A lot of illegal bunkering activities are taking place there and there are more than six local refineries at this point. It, therefore, calls to question where the security operatives are when all these unholy activities are being perpetrated.
‘’The Federal Government in collaboration with the state government should revisit the concept of house boats for security personnel as the building of permanent structure will encourage communal growth and urbanisation of the various riverine communities which will reduce the collaboration of security operatives in the illegal activities.
‘’The issue of oil theft is complex, but the solution is simple. Until we seek the simple approach being championed by our group, defeating the crime will be a mirage. As a group that has been studying the trend for close to a decade, we strongly believe that we are better positioned to monitor and advise both the government and other stakeholders.”