Oil Theft: Police Foil Attempt, Arrests Alleged Oil Bunkers, Others On The Run

IGP Usman Baba Alkali

By Jason Efosa

The Edo State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, has arrested no fewer than 30 suspects for various criminal offences and destroyed illegal oil refineries where crude oil was being diverted to.

The Command’s spokesman DSP Chidi Nwabuzor told news men recently that a number of those arrested were for alleged illegal oil bunkering, adding that some were arrested at Boboluku Community in Ethiope Local Government Area of Delta. According to him, some of the suspects were being questioned by the relevant security agencies.

AtlanticNewsonline gathered the Command adopted the use of swamp buggies to ensure complete destruction of illegal bunkering camps within its area of operations. It said the innovation yielded positive results because several metallic tanks, drums as well as the covering of several dug-out-pits used for illegal bunkering were destroyed during the operations.

The spokesman also said that at Ebele Creek, two speed boats concealed in the swamp by militants were seized and that the boats were currently in the custody of the Police pending investigation. The Police discovered and destroyed five dug-out-pits and five metallic storage tanks loaded with about 110,000 litres of products suspected to be petrol and about 20,000 litres of kerosene.

However, a driver of one of the petro tankers which according to unconfirmed reports was allegedly used to transport petroleum products was killed by the Police operatives while he attempted to escape. It was learnt that the driver one Yinka Adebayo was previously under the trail of security operatives as he was accused of offering his tanker for the diversion of petrol to black market dealers. Unconfirmed reports also has it that one of the assistants to the articulated petro tanker driver named Alabi Sylvanus escaped.

Further findings revealed that the escapee, about 30 years of age was an apprentice serving under the late Yinka Adebayo. The incident was reported to have occurred at Okpella a border town between Edo and Kogi State.
The Police authority, said the officers also intercepted and destroyed a Cotonou boat loaded with 100 jerry cans containing kerosene, 60,000 litres of crude and 35,000 litres of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) in Afuze area of Edo State.

Oil is the lifeblood of Nigeria’s economy. Since the Royal Dutch Shell PLC discovered the first commercially viable oil well in 1956, oil earnings grew to account for some 80 percent of all government revenue in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people.

Although corruption sees much of that money frittered away, it still provides needed funding for projects in the country. In the face of Nigeria’s growing corruption, several youths especially in the South-South Niger Delta region have resulted to illegal oil trading for survival.

Though a state-sponsored amnesty program largely halted militant attacks in the Delta in 2009, allowing production levels to return to more than Two million barrels of oil a day, yet while production climbed amid the relative peace, the level of thefts increased quietly and quickly across the region of winding creeks and mangroves about the size of Portugal.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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