Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
THE Commander, Nigeria Navy Service, NNS Delta, Warri Naval Base, Commodore Mohammed Garba was bubbly, last weekend, as he verbalised on the several battles between his men and oil thieves in Delta State in the last few months.
As he spoke, he stole a look at the 150 drums of illegally refined diesel, loaded in three large wooden local boats, seized by his men from oil thieves, last Thursday. The consignments were kept in custody in the Navy Barracks until it was set ablaze.
According to him: “The seizure was made by my men on Thursday at Udu Creek; we acted on a tip-off, but they (oil bunkerers) fled before we got there, so it was an abandoned seizure”.
However, it was not the abandonment that excited the commander; his source of joy is that the well-coordinated attacks on oil thieves and sea robbers by his men and other security agencies in the state were paying off, as intelligence information indicates they were reshuffling from the state.
According to him: “The build-up by NNS Delta is consequent upon the strategic performance mandate by the Chief of Naval Staff regarding zero level tolerance for oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other criminal acts on the waterways”.
He said nothing would be spared in the battle against criminals on the waterways of the state, adding that oil thieves were also inventing new tricks to beat security agents, but “we are on top of the game”.
He disclosed that agents of the oil thieves often times pass wrong information or they disguise their operation to create diversion from their actual business, but the Command was following them closely.
Commodore Garba also disclosed the steps taken to avoid casualty on his men. “We always gather enough information to ascertain the threat level to know the logistics we will deploy before any raid. When necessary, we call on higher authority to take over,” he informed.
Prior to last week’s haul, NNS Delta in March confiscated 270 drums of illegally refined diesel in Warri and also seized 34 suspected oil bunkerers following a three-month surveillance and investigation.
The oil thieves, who were taken unawares, were apprehended at a trailer park, besides the Nigerian Ports Authority office in Ugbuwangue on Warri/Sapele Road at about 4:30 am.
Prosecute oil thieves – Gov Uduaghan
Meanwhile, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has called for the prosecution of all those arrested for illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalisation to act as deterrent to others and enhance the work of the security agencies.
Governor Uduaghan made the call in Asaba at a state reception for the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba.
He said that the twin evils of illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalisation have become a drain on the economy of the nation and there was the need to tackle the problem headlong.
His words: “Pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering are the major challenges facing the Naval Service in the Niger Delta and it is of great concern to all of us, as the economy is going down the drain. There is need to prosecute all those that have been arrested for illegal bunkering to act as deterrent to others and enhance the work of our security services”.
Uduaghan said the ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ vision was borne out of the fact that with these illegal activities in the oil sector, the state needed to look beyond the oil revenues and diversify its economy to other sectors and utilize its other economic potentials.
“ Delta State is working on its vision of ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ to attract major investments to the state, create jobs for its teeming youths and empower the needy, widows, youths and women through its small and medium scale micro-credit scheme,” he asserted.
While commending the unity and cordial relationship amongst the heads of the various security agencies in the country, Governor Uduaghan appealed for synergy among them at the state level to meet the security challenges in the state and for the betterment of the country.
Responding, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba urged officers and men of the Service to continue to meet the challenges and goals posed by their work and ensure the maintenance of the present achievements attained by the Service.
He commended the leadership qualities and developmental strides of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, describing him as “a man of dexterity, uncommon character, largely misunderstood who has brought his leadership acumen to bear in the development of the state”.
While expressing his support for the success of the ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ vision, he called on all Deltans to support the initiative to enable the state develop its other revenue potentials.