January 13, 2016 - 7:46 PM EST
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Battling Oil Thieves in Rivers

The rising cases of oil bunkering, illegal refineries and pipeline vandalization in the Niger Delta region is a menace that is being tackled by stakeholders in the security circle. The Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, Air force and DSS have been in the forefront of war against illegal oil deals which has become a thriving business for teeming Niger Delta youths. The Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) comprising Army, Navy, Air force, Police and DSS had in the past made an inroad in the fight against illegal oil bunkering with arrest, confiscation of illegally refined petroleum products as well as destruction of illegal refineries at the creeks of the Niger Delta but the illegal oil deals continued to thrive.

In most cases, arrest were made but months later, the suspects found their way back to the criminal activities leaving tongue wagging that those involved in this economic sabotage are well connected. The JTF has a statutory responsibility to arrest those involved in the illegal economic sabotage as well as the confiscation of the illegally refined products and equipment used in carrying out such criminal activities. While the JTF arrest the suspects involved in the illegal oil trade, the power of prosecution lies with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC. Nigerians had in the past expressed strong reservation against the genuine and sincere persecution of those involved in illegal oil deal given their alleged connection with the powerful forces behind the economic crime. The Rivers State Command of Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps in allaying the fear of Nigerians that illegal oil thieves cannot be prosecuted said last week that it arrested over 658 suspected oil thieves in Rivers State last year. The command also said it has already secured the conviction of about 22 of the person it arrested, adding that about 207 cases were pending for trial. The Commandant of NSCDC in the state, Mrs. Helen Amakiri, made this disclosure at the command's headquarters in Port Harcourt while addressing Journalists on the achievements of the corps in the previous years. While enumerating her achievements in the year under review, Amakiri said the command was bent on eradicating from the state all forms of illegal bunkering and oil theft. She said the level of oil theft in the state was alarming, stressing that it needed the determination of security operatives to tame the increasing menace. The state commandant said that the command in August last year, stormed over 16 sites where oil was illegally refined at the creeks. Amakiri said based on the persistent clamp down on the illegal activities, oil theft and bunkering has reduced in the state. She said "The Command so far, has charged about 229 criminal cases to court, involving a total of 658 accused persons between January and December 2015." "Out of these 229 cases, the command between January and November 2015, secured a total of 22 convictions, leaving a total of 207 cases pending for trial. "Based on the available evidence against the accused persons, we are very sure of securing their conviction as we continue to prosecute the cases very diligently." Amakiri disclosed that the command has been able to destroy thousands of drums containing adulterated and illegally refined products, as well as so many other illegal refineries and dumps in the creeks. "Within the year 2015, the command arrested and impounded 1,534 drums, 17 tankers, two barges, one vessel, over 21 wooden and speed boats all conveying stolen products. "We recovered three suspected stolen well heads, over 40 pipes and a locally-made pistol." She added, "Within August 2015, over 8,140 drums of adulterated AGO (Automotive Gas Oil) were destroyed alongside stolen crude oil worth over N72,500,000 were destroyed. "The command also destroyed about 26 Illegal refineries located at different creeks within Rivers State."

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Source: Equities.com News (January 13, 2016 - 7:46 PM EST)

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