•Arrests 88 suspected bunkerers, vandals, destroys illegal refineries
By Evelyn Usman
The Commandant General’s Special Anti- Vandal Monitoring Unit, SAVMU of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps has arrested 88 suspected members of different vandal and oil bunkery syndicates , recovering stolen petroleum close to N1 billion in six months.
The unit which was saddled with the responsibility of complementing other formations of the Corps across the nation to stamp out oil thieves and the criminal elements vandalizing the nation’s critical national assets and infrastructure has also destroyed illegal refineries where adulterated petroleum were produced and distributed across the country, within the period under review.
These vandals have dammed the devastating environmental pollution and health hazards posed by illegal refining and oil bunkery, as they return to the same illicit business even after the destruction of their illegal refineries. They also do not put into consideration the dire consequence of their action on their lives.
Two months ago , scores of persons were burnt beyond recognition in an explosion that rocked an illegal oil refinery depot on the border of Rivers and Imo States .
In a determined move to avert another disaster, the CG’s Special Intelligence Squad uncovered an illegal dumpsite /storage facility at Olowo Community in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo state, few days after the blast in the South- South region of the country.
In this operation, eight suspects who were loading the suspected adulterated products into the storage were arrested. Ninety- eight kegs (25 litres ) filled with adulterated Diesel were being loaded
into a black Toyota Sequoia with registration number APP 134 DX, when the operatives swooped on the suspects.
In addition to these were 19 (25 litres) jerricans ,five drums of 200 litres of suspected AGO, two drums of 200 litres capacity, half filled and two drums of 200litres capacity quarter filled .
Also, two storage tanks with 3500 litres of adulterated AGO each and an underground storage tank with four compartments were discovered at the scene. One of the compartments had 2,800 litres , another 1,500 litres , the third 16,500 litres of adulterated Automated Gas Oil,AGO while the fourth one was empty.
Six pumping machines and a counting machine used to transfer and measure the quantity of petroleum products were also recovered at the scene.
Earlier , while patrolling the Iju-Osun waterfront in Irele Local Government Area of the state, the squad intercepted two suspects alleged to have hijacked a barge containing Automated gas Oil ,AGO.
Preliminary investigation as gathered showed that the barge was hijacked from Escravos in Delta and was heading to Siluko in Edo when it was intercepted.
Also , the Squad as gathered , recently destroyed five illegal refineries in Delta South Local Government Area of Delta State, during which two suspects were arrested while others managed to escape.
An Intelligence report according to the Squad, revealed that the site belonged to three individuals among who was a woman.
In Edo State, an illegal depot was uncovered at Ahor, along Benin-Lagos road where diesel was being adulterated, with two suspects arrested with 950,000 litres of adulterated diesel .
Furthermore, statistics at Crime Guard disposal revealed that in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State , 15 suspected oil thieves were arrested with six trucks and a bus loaded with suspected illegally refined Automotive Gasoline Oil.
Three months ago in Akwa-Ibom, 14 suspects were arrested with 1,700 litres of adulterated AGO in four different locations within Itu and Onna Local Government Areas of the state.
Prominent Nigerians behind illegal bunkery
Owing to several arrest of these suspects, one would have expected there to be a drastic reduction in activities of illegal oil bunkerers and vandals.
Astonishingly, their illegal activities are discovered to be unabated because of an alleged involvement of prominent Nigerians in the illicit oil business considered lucrative.
Some of these individuals as reliably informed, include both serving and retired uniform men.
This disclosure was made by the NSCDC spokesman in Delta State, Emeka Peters.
Peters said confessional statements by suspects and subsequent investigation , revealed the so-called big guns were behind crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegal refineries, economic sabotage and a host of other socio-economic crimes under the purview of the NSCDC.
He however did not disclose their identities but said, “Heads will roll, if the corps decides to publish the names of those behind crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism among others.
“Suspects have revealed some of the identities of their sponsors .The force is poised to publish names indicated from the confessional statements made by suspects. They contained names of high profiled personalities, respected leaders in the societies, as well as retired and serving uniform personnel and their relatives”.
Reiterating the NSCDC’s determination to fight the scourge, the Commandant General, Dr. Ahmed Audi in a speech to mark his one year in office, disclosed that ”In the last six months, the Corps has arrested about 461 suspects for various offences ranging from vandalization and attacks on Critical National Assets and Infrastructure (CNAI), cattle rustling, banditry, attacks on farmers and farmlands and illegal mining.”
”Owing to the critical nature of these assets and infrastructure to national security and socio-economic development, adequate security is now being emplaced to safeguard the Country’s Critical National Assets and Infrastructure by this Corps.
“In this connection, the newly established Commandant General’s Special Intelligence Squad has been taking proactive and pragmatic steps through discrete investigation and intelligence gathering to track down these criminal elements to avert and checkmate their criminal intentions. This Squad also provides back-up to the States’ Special Forces and Anti-Vandal Squad in curtailing crime and criminality”
He added that his administration had embarked on a mission to reorganize and revolutionise the training apparatus of the corps in order to sharpen the skills and competencies of the personnel to effectively cope with the challenges of dangerous developments of insecurity in the country occasioned by the activities of bandits.