7 Suspected Security Personnel Impersonators Amongst 23 Suspected Oil Thieves Arrested in Last Month in Rivers, Nigeria
October 18: The Nigerian Navy on Friday [October 18] said it arrested seven alleged impostors parading themselves as security personnel in Port Harcourt the day before.
Cdr. Murtala Rogo, Base Operations Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, said this when handing over the suspects to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Onne, Rivers. Rogo said the suspects, who were onboard a ‘rogue vessel’, MV WORKHORSE, were intercepted while escorting an oil tanker, MV OSAMEWE to an undisclosed location without permit.
“In line with the Nigerian Navy policing role on the maritime domain, on Sept. 6, we got tip-off of a vessel carrying out illegal escort duty for an oil tanker.
“Based on this intelligence, we deployed NNS Pathfinder patrol gunboats to Bonny Anchorage to make the arrest.
“On reaching there, our patrol elements arrested seven crew members onboard MV Workhorse for providing illegal armed escort to an oil tanker, MV Osamewe.
“The suspects could not provide the appropriate permit to operate as a private maritime logistic support security vessel at the time of arrest,” he said.
Rogo said it was a crime to carry out oil and gas activities within the nation’s maritime environment without approval from the Navy and relevant government agencies.
Source: Pulse Nigeria
The seizure of the MV WORKHORSE and the arrest of these seven suspects are amongst wider operations targeting oil thieves in the last month. In total, the Rivers State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has arrested 23 suspected oil thieves and seized a vessel and 20 vehicles used in conveying stolen petroleum products.
The suspects, according to the state NSCDC Commandant, Mr Muktar Lawal, were apprehended in various parts of the state.
Lawal stated, “On September 21, 2019, the anti-vandal team of the NSCDC, Rivers State Command, intercepted two trucks, one with number plate Abia UNA 39 YWU, along the Jesuit College, Mbodo Aluu and Abonima Wharf. The suspects are currently at large.
“On October 7, three suspects were also arrested – one Emeka Kalu and two others – with a Mercedes Benz truck with number plate, Lagos EKY 478 N, loaded with seven drums stacked inside.
“Also, on October 13, a petroleum tanker truck with number plate, Lagos AA 461 XJ, conveying a substance suspected to be crude oil, which was loaded in two compartments, was impounded at Ogale/Ebulu Eleme in the Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.”
Lawal added that 12 persons involved in illegal oil bunkering were also arrested during a joint operation with the personnel of the Operation Delta Safe in the Ibelebiri community.
According to the NSCDC commandant, one motorcycle, one Toyota Camry with number plate GBB 505 AA, and one Almera car with number plate PHC 785 KX were handed over to the corps for further investigation and possible prosecution of the owners.
He stated, “In the same vein, the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder arrested and handed over one vessel, MV WORKHORSE, with seven suspects to the corps today (Thursday).“
He pointed out that investigation was ongoing and vowed that those found culpable would be prosecuted.
The commandant, however, expressed optimism that the oil theft in the state would drastically reduced with the measures put in place by the command.
In response to the recent arrests, the Nigerian Navy (NN) has appealed to the government to consider establishing a special tribunal for speedy trial of suspected oil thieves. A spokesperson noted that judges were bedevilled by excess workload which has led to delays in adjudication of criminal cases and by extension seen arrested suspects on bail returning to commit same crimes over again. He noted, ““We have had cases where we arrested the same set of people two or three times over. It is a problem that needs all stakeholders to address. That is why we are clamouring for special tribunals for quick dispensation of justice.” (Source: The Nation Online Nigeria)