TWELVE suspected oil thieves are currently in the net of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State Command, for their alleged involvement in oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism.
The state NSCDC Commandant, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, said apart from the arrest of the suspects, seven trucks, two cars and two boats laden with stolen crude oil were also impounded by the corps.
Haruna, who made this disclosure on Friday in Port Harcourt while marking this year’s Civil Defence Day tagged, ‘Civil Defence and the National Institutions for more efficient Disaster Management’, stated that the suspects were apprehended from various parts of the state.
Also impounded, according him, were petroleum products believed to be poorly refined by the suspects.
Explaining that the arrest of the suspects became possible through the command’s intelligence network, Haruna added that information from members of the public and sister security agencies proved vital to his agency.
“It is our duty to go after oil thieves, vandals and those who deal in stolen products. We discovered these products and suspects through intelligence network. Some members of the public are cooperating with us and they are helping us with useful information.
“We have arrested 12 suspects and they have been arraigned in court. We arrested one of the suspects at Ogbakiri with suspected adulterated AGO in 40,000 litres truck. Two suspects were arrested in Bori with two trucks loaded with 40,000 litres of product,” he said.
He pointed out that measures had been put in place to prevent any act that was capable of causing disaster in Rivers State, warning that adulterated fuel could lead to fire outbreak at homes and work places.
According to him, the command has begun to sensitise members of the public on the need to shun illegally-refined products to avoid fire disasters.
Haruna further said, “On 14th February, 2018, a tug boat of seven compartments, including three compartments loaded with adulterated AGO, was arrested at Oshiry Eastern By-pass.
“Also, on 19th February 2018, a wooden boat loaded with 67 drums of suspected adulterated AGO was arrested at Abonima-Iwofe on 22nd February 2018. Again, at Railway Close, two suspects, with a Volkswagen Jetta loaded with several sacks of adulterated AGO with Registration Number DEG 351 GR were arrested.”
The state commandant, however, told newsmen that the command had constantly combed creeks in the area and arrested many oil thieves to ensure that adulterated products did not find their way into the market.
“We are having challenges in the area of communication and the terrain we go for operations. Some of the creeks are not easily accessible. We need some boats to access the creeks; we have them, but they are not enough,” Haruna added.