BY ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA—ABIA State government has read the riot act to traditional rulers involved in oil bunkering and pipeline vandalisation, vowing to depose ant traditional ruler caught in the act.
Addressing traditional rulers from Ukwa area of the state, Orji said: “The major thing I have called you is because of what is happening in your area, breaking of oil pipelines and stealing oil.
“The activities of these people have affected the allocation to the state. Because of this, we have for some months received nothing from 13 per cent derivation and it is affecting the development of the state.
“You can’t claim not to know these boys, they are known. Honestly, we have petitions that traditional rulers are involved in this. We have even investigated and found it to be true.
“Please, if any of you is involved, let it stop today. Our mercy ends the moment you leave here, because we will embarrass you before the public. So if you are a traditional ruler who is involved, stop it today. We are friends if you keep to the laws.”
The activities of illegal oil bunkerers and economic saboteurs who vandalize oil pipelines heightened in recent times, following the fight against criminals, especially kidnappers and robbers in the state by the state government.
It was believed that some of the hoodlums who were lucky to escape the onslaught of security agencies in the fight against kidnapping and other violent crimes are behind the illegal oil business and pipeline vandalization.
Governor Theodore Orji had expressed worry over the economic loss associated with the activities of the oil thieves and vandals that he recently re-equipped the security agencies in the state, providing them new vehicles.
The government in a bid to tackle the problem also set up a task force, working in collaboration with security agencies manning the pipelines and hunting oil bunkerers.
To ensure that the illegal activities were eliminated, Governor Orji sent a bill to the House of Assembly, proposing to make the offence of bunkering and pipeline vandalization a capital offence.
The action was prompted by reports to the government that some traditional rulers and some well placed individuals from the oil producing areas of the state were involved in the illegal acts.
Governor Orji expressed worry that the activities of the oil thieves and vandals were affecting the state’s share of 13% derivation and the state’s economy.