Nigeria: Oil Theft: JTF Discovers Stolen Crude Oil in Community Shrine, Arrests 15 Persons

IG’s task force arrests informant

Segun James and Chiemelie Ezeobi
What are the gods doing with stolen crude oil? And is crude oil the new gin used in worshipping the ancestors? These and other questions are what the soldiers of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, are asking two persons who were arrested with huge volume of stolen crude oil in a shrine at Ugbokodo community in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion anti-oil-theft patrol team of Sector 1 of the JTF made the discovery when they stormed the shrine where over 230 drums of illegally refined diesel were being stored.

In another operation, the JTF also arrested 11 others on board four ocean-going barges in Rivers State used for illegal oil bunkering activities in the waterways of the Niger Delta.

The team, led by the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ifeanyi Otu, invaded the abodes of the gods following intelligence report on the illegalities going on in the area.

According to the Media Coordinator of the JTF, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the discovery at the community shrine has led to the arrest of two suspects and the scuttling of 13 illegal oil distillery camps.

“The oil thieves had concealed 34 dug out pits, 37 steel surface reservoirs, 360 drums and 44 open boats filled with stolen crude oil along Benneth Island, Gbekebor, Iffie communities and Ugbokodo creek in Delta State.

“During the operation, two suspects, Queen Maku and Sylvester Togo, were arrested with eight live cartridges and one empty cartridge,” Nwachukwu revealed.

Another anti-oil theft security operation by the operatives of the JTF, according to Nwachukwu, had also led to the seizure of four barges with over 600,000 litres of crude oil in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States communities and waterways.

However, the Commander JTF, Major General Bata Debiro, has called on all community leaders and youth in the Niger Delta to synergise with the JTF to bring the oil theft menace in the region to complete stop.

Debiro, who made the call during an anti-oil theft advocacy and security assessment tour to Bonny Island, noted that illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism and illegal refineries were all heinous crimes that not only threaten the economic security of Nigeria, but also degrade the environment and aquatic life of the good people of the Niger Delta and therefore require a conglomeration of efforts to totally eradicate.

He urged the youth of the Niger Delta to join hands with the JTF to kick out the menace of oil theft by giving the necessary support and cooperation to JTF operational bases in and around their communities, rather than stand aloof and watch criminals unleash destruction on their environment and take away their aquatic life, adding, that this will inevitably protect their future

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism, Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos, has arrested one of their informants and three other suspected pipeline vandals at the Sagamu area of Ogun State.

The operatives of the task force also impounded a fuel tanker with registration number XP453SMK, laden with 33,000 litres of petroleum products.

The police informant, who was identified as 40-year-old Ismailia Adetoro, was arrested alongside his accomplices 39-year-old Raufu Odoniyi, 22-year-old Oyedeji Salim and 25-year-old Tobi Olalekan.
Confirming the arrest, the Officer-in-Charge of the task force, Friday Ibadin, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, said the operatives had received intelligence report about the area where the vandals were siphoning petroleum products from one of the pipelines of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

He said the Sector Commander, DSP Onaghise Osayande, detailed his men and they ambushed and arrested the suspects after they had loaded the tank of the 33,000-litre fuel tanker.

Ibadin said one of the suspect; Ismailia popularly known as commissioner had been on their wanted list for a long time as investigation revealed that the fact that he was a police informant, did not deter him from dabbling in pipeline vandalism.

He said: “The fight against pipeline vandalism is a collective responsibility of every Nigerian and we should be proud to help law enforcers to help protect our natural resources which are there for our development.”

The mastermind-cum-police informant, Ismailia said he delved into vandalism because the compensation he got from being an informant was not enough to make ends meet.

In his confessional statement he said he was a pipeline vandal who quit to become a police informant on other vandals.

He said, “Because of the danger, I decided to stop and volunteered to alert the police. Of course, I was generously compensated but I have many responsibilities which my job as a vulcaniser could no meet up with.

“ I decided to reconsider going back to vandalism and I asked Alhaji to include me in his next deal but  unfortunately it was in that deal that the police arrested us.

“I am terribly sorry and ready to help the police for free, if they will release me. It was the devil and family problem that landed me into this problem.”


Original Article