A Niger Delta monarch, leaders, and stakeholders have asked the nation’s security agencies to carry out internal cleansing, and fish out officers and men involved in crude oil banditry, rather than challenging a citizen that spoke the bitter truth to name the complicit security officials.
They asked President Bola Tinubu, to expose and punish all military personnel engaged in crude oil theft.
Responding to the Nigerian Navy’s demand through its Spokesperson, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vauguhan, that the leader of the Niger-Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, should name the military officers involved in oil bunkering, the stakeholders advised the security agencies not take the patience of Niger Delta people for granted.
Dokubo-Asari, during a visit to President Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week, disclosed that military officers were involved in crude oil bunkering in the oil region.
Similarly, while responding to his Navy counterpart, the Nigerian Army Spokesperson, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, also debunked the claim of military participation in oil bunkering, saying the army had intensified its battle against the oil thieves.
However, stakeholders, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, during the week, insisted Dokubo-Asari should not mention any name publicly, and that security officials’ participation in oil bunkering was common knowledge in the creeks.
They said that he (Dokubo-Asari) was not the first to speak out, as an ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, whose Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, TSSNL, is one of the private surveillance contractors currently monitoring the nation’s oil pipelines, and others, made a similar disclosure in the past.
The Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom in Delta State, HRM King Obukohwo Monday Whiskey, Udurhie 1, who noted that the military was trying to save face, said: “First, the Federal Government must be very discrete in its investigation to know who the crude oil thieves are, as the statement by Dokubo-Asari is not only a fact, but also the bitter truth.”
“There is a cartel that involves security personnel, oil companies’ executives and top government officials. Do not forget, that the oil they are bunkering is not in drums.
“This oil is being stolen in high-capacity barges and in most cases, ships. These are not businesses of peasant people; people who do not have international connections, and poor people. If you must steal oil, you must have a ship. Which Niger Delta person has a ship?
“Therefore, telling Dokubo-Asari to come and name names is just face-saving. They are trying to save their face. They should not take the patience of the Niger Delta people for granted.
“They are well-known in the Niger Delta for their illicit activities. Go around the seas in the Niger Delta, sometimes, you pass a military houseboat, less than a pole from there, there is an ongoing operation. Are you now saying they are not aware of what is happening there? Can villagers go there to challenge those people, and survive it?
“This country belongs to all of us and if we want to rescue this country from the hands of few corrupt individuals, we must be ready to call a spade a spade.
“The military protects oil facilities; several people have said in the past that the people supposed to protect oil are stealing it. If the military hears that, they should investigate it and bring out the culprits.
“Therefore, let them take the investigation more seriously. They should do their work, and not expect any individual or organisation to tell them those responsible for oil theft in the country.
“They are the government apparatus directed to protect the oil from being stolen, so they should monitor those they have deployed, make sure they work, and get the culprits.
“It is because they were not doing their work that the Federal Government had to appoint Tompolo to do the work at a very heavy cost. Therefore, their incapability led to incurring additional costs to do their work.
Former President, Ijaw Youth Congress, IYC, Barr Eric Omare, said, “My view is that neither Dokubo-Asari nor Tompolo needs to say more than what they have already said by going further to mention names of military officers involved in oil bunkering.
“The Nigerian government knows those military officers they sent to the Niger Delta to protect oil facilities and they are the ones involved in oil bunkering.
“If the federal government is serious about tackling oil bunkering, Tompolo, Dokubo-Asari and other leaders of the Niger Delta region have already said enough to warrant the government identifying the culprits.
“Therefore, what is required is the political will to handle the menace of oil bunkering in the Niger Delta. The problem is not the absence of laws, but absence of political will by the highest level of political leadership.
“Those involved in the oil bunkering are known to the federal government and the new government under President Tinubu should summon the courage, and political will to tackle the menace.”