June 19, 2023

Oil thieves not hidden, must be invited for talks to end oil bunkering – Tonye Cole

oil theft

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 governorship election in Rivers state, Tonye Cole, said the people responsible for oil theft in the Niger Delta are not hidden.

Cole stated this while speaking in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics. 

According to him, oil thieves must be brought in to be part of the discussion on how to end oil bunkering.

He said, “You have to bring them in. They must be part of the discussion. They are not hidden. Some of them may have grown through the creeks, some of them you see their lifestyles change,” he said.

“You see someone whose lifestyle has changed, you see the houses have changed, you see the cars have changed, you see the money that is spent, so you know. 

“This is a society where when we were growing up if you start showing money and no one knows where it’s coming from, everyone will ostracise you from the society.

“Today it has changed; nobody cares where your money comes from again. So it is not hidden, people know almost immediately within the community that this is what is going on,” Cole said.

Cole’s comment comes amid an allegation by a former Niger Delta agitator, Asari Dokubo that the military is responsible for most oil theft in the country.

He said that Dokubo’s allegation of oil theft against the military is a big issue that must be addressed.

Cole noted that the military might have been angered by Dokubo’s claim but said the military would not deny that there are some bad eggs that aid and abet illegal bunkering.

The APC chieftain noted that if the country does not address the issue of illegal bunkering, a state of emergency in the oil and gas sector might be the only solution.