By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA- FORMER governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Solomon Alamieyeseigha Monday lampooned former President Olusegun Obasanjo, accusing him of having the list of oil thieves in Nigeria, but he shielded them during his administration.
Alamieseigha also declared that 50 percent of Nigerian oil was stolen daily and accused foreign embassies of having full knowledge of illegal purchase of crude oil from Nigeria.
Speaking Monday when officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, appeared before the Senator Adamu Aliero led Committee on Public Finance and Revenue, the former governor and a delegate from Bayelsa State told members of the Committee that he facilitated the arrest of some oil thieves in Bayelsa state as governor,but to his total dismay, these persons were left off the hook following what he termed high level conspiracy in high quarters and with the connivance of NNPC officials.
Alamieyeseigha also revealed that expatriates in the oil sectors were also deeply involved in the illegal activities in the industry and even collaborated with militants to kidnap themselves in the heydays of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
He said, “I had one experience. Tankers were loaded in Bayelsa. I got the information and laid ambush for them and arrested them. About 14 big tankers and they were handed over to the police. They were charged to court and the judge ordered that the product should be tested if they were crude oil. NNPC was invited, they came took the sample and after a week the result came out as agro chemical and before I know it all of them were released.
“I went to President (Olusegun) Obasanjo. I even accused him that he is the chief bunkerer, that he should not call me again. I also accused him that those that are involved are also sitting in this arena and if he pushed me beyond that I am going to mention names. It became so hot that I was persuaded to follow him to his office. He held my hand and we entered. So there is actually enough intelligence that is open to the presidency. He himself, President Obasanjo, started mentioning names. I said ‘oh, you are the chief bunkerer, I confirm, you know them, don’t call me again.
“In fact expatriates are more involved in the crime than Nigerians. In fact some of them even offer themselves to be arrested so that when there is compensation they have a share of it. They are also involved in kidnapping. They allow themselves to be kidnapped. Oil companies are invited, their home countries will shout that their men are kidnapped; management of oil companies will now make efforts and pay ransom. When the ransom is paid they are released and that money is shared among them. So, it is a high level conspiracy that is going on.”
The former governor also alleged that retired naval officers were involved in oil theft, explained that the local boys that were regularly arrested for oil theft were mere “escorts” as they do not have the international connections to sell stolen crude oil, adding, “The so-called militants we celebrate that tap oil are only employed as escorts. If there is no buyer we will not find a seller. The post retirement job of a senior naval officer is bunkering. None of those boys you see in the Niger Delta have the necessary connections to bring ships to our economic zone to lift. Those that are making the connections are also part of us.
“In fact almost 50 percent of what we produce in this country is being siphoned outside to augment the international market. And where is the oil going? It is going to those countries and they know the type of oil that is coming out from Nigeria. It is different from others. The sulphur content here is very low and they know this but everybody is gaining from it.
“Let the federal government send warning letter to all the embassies that are in this country and give them three months. After three months if we see any ship that is not authorized in our economic zone, especially in the Niger Delta, it will be destroyed. Involve the Navy, buy few assault helicopters, buy missiles and after the three months any ship you see inside there by the time you destroy one, two ship no country will allow their ship to ship to enter and so there will be no buyer.” he said