– Six people have been arrested by the Nigerian Navy
– The six were arrested for oil theft in the Escravos axis of Delta state
– A new militant group has threatened to destroy oil facilities within the Niger Delta region
– The militant group says it will blow up facilities in protest against the arrest of its members
Six persons have been for oil theft within the Escravos axis of Delta state, the Nigerian Navy made the arrest on Wednesday, September 7.
The Director of Information of the Nigerian Navy, Commodore Christian Ezekobe, said in a statement on Saturday, September 10, that six of the suspects were arrested during a raid by a team from the Operations Base, Escravos at Sara Creek, Delta state.
He said the patrol team destroyed three ‘Cotonou boats’ laden with stolen crude oil.
The statement added that the patrol team also recovered ‘‘one speed boat, a Cotonou boat carrying 15×10,000 litres and 2 x 5000 liters GP tanks laden with illegally refined automotive gas oil” from the suspected oil thieves.
Also said to have been recovered by the patrol team were three outboard engines and four pumping machines.
Ezekobe noted that the oil was suspected to have been illegally refined at Ogboro Creek, Warri South Local Government Area.
He also said that another patrol team deployed by the FOB Escravos destroyed an illegal refinery and arrested one Endurance (surname withheld) for alleged oil theft at Ekpemu Creek in Warri South West Local Government Area.
According to him, the Navy recovered two phones, a pumping machine and hoses from the suspects.
Ezekobe, who said that the Navy would hand over the suspects to the police for prosecution, restated the commitment of the Navy to carrying out its statutory responsibility of protecting the nation’s economic assets.
“In a related development, a patrol team deployed by NNS Delta on 3 September 2016 combed Benneth Island situated in Warri South LGA of Delta State.
“On arrival, the suspects fled as the team recovered 40 MT of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), one pumping machine and some hoses with which the criminals operated.
“Yet again, on 2 September 2016, a patrol team deployed by FOB Escravos located and destroyed an illegal refinery as well as a very large Cotonou boat laden with product suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“In the course of the operation one Mr Endurance Okogba Edirin was arrested for involvement in the operations of the illegal refinery and suspected crude oil theft in Ekpemu cooking camp at Ekpemu Creek in Warri South West LGA in Delta State.
“Some items recovered were 2 mobile phones, one pumping machine and hoses.
“In all the cases, investigations have commenced and the suspects would be promptly handed over to the prosecuting agencies for further action.
“The Nigerian Navy is therefore appealing to the general public especially those with legitimate businesses in the maritime sector to avoid criminal acts as the service is willing, able and ready to carry out its constitutional mandate of protecting the economic assets of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, a militant group, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM) last night threatened to bomb another oil facility in protest against alleged random arrests by the military under the guise of looking for its members.
The group, which claimed it is not Urhobo Militant, denounced one , who was arrested last week along Abraka-Agbor road as one of its key members.
It said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Aldo Agbalaja, “Again, the Nigerian Army, in a bid to save face, announced the arrest of ‘the declarer of Operation Crocodile Tears’ and its spokesman said his name is Gabriel Ogbudje.
“By the so-called arrest, these jesters are suggesting that they have finally reached the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate. For the avoidance of doubts, we do not know this said Gabriel Ogbudje as either a member or leader so we wonder why he was attributed with the mandate’s ongoing operation,” it added.
The Urhobo militant group decried the ongoing military exercise code-named Operation Crocodile Smile saying it was just a charade.
“The ongoing so-called operation, which the deceptive military administration has guised as an innocent training drill (Operation Crocodile Smile) is nothing but a facade, put together just to retire freshly stolen military fund and in the bid to make the cover-up look tight.
“These unprofessional and ill-trained men have been feverishly engaged in a spree of blind arrests; just anyone that comes in sight, which explains the senseless arrest and parade of a septuagenarian, some teenagers and a pregnant woman as militants.
“The High Command of the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate has watched with disgust the unprofessional approach of the Nigerian armed forces in their so-called campaign against our struggle and we feel sad to say this system is a pathetic waste of time and the resources of the peoples of this contraption called Nigeria.
“How can a supposedly national defense force operate without precise intelligence, but will rather use the people’s resources to buy cover-ups for itself?”, it asked.
“To prove to the world that the Nigerian armed forces have been engaged in a blind and random arrest of mostly innocent and helpless community people, we shall be making a very loud statement to intimidate the smiling crocodile,” it said.
Meanwhile, OML 30 Community Developmet Board, comprising representatives of Isoko, Urhobo, Itsekiris and Ndokwas, yesterday decried the destruction of oil facilities in Urhoboland, noting that it was not in the character of Urhobos to employ violence in agitating for their rights.
OML 30 is a body put together by the government and Joint Venture Partners (JVP) by oil companies for the development of host communities to multinational oil firms operating in Delta Central district in Delta Sate.
Chairman of the Board, Hon. Morris Idiovwa said in a statement that the Urhobos were still mindful of the fact that not all problems were solvable through force of violence.
He therefore appealed to youths in Urhoboland to embrace peace stressing that they should not turn the area to a battle ground which they might regret later, apparently referring to the activities of the militant group.
“So much as we desire our people and our land to receive the appropriate return for their contributions to Nigeria’s national development, through our physical labour and natural resources, we believe there are many routes to access to access the market.
“Urhobo nation has been patient and peaceful and we believe that we are drawing closer to getting our dues from the Nigerian union, therefore, we want to call on all our youths not to give in to the lure and invitation to violence.
“Violence is not our pattern, that is not who we are. We do not want to turn Urhobo land to a battle ground and so we call on all youth groups and their leadership to reach out to all our youths not to start a process that is likely to soil the good name that our fore-fathers bequeathed to us,” he pleaded.
Hon. Idiovwa decried a couple of unwholesome activities in parts of Urhobo land which he said have led to the destruction of some valuable oil and gas assets.
He therefore assured the federal government and the oil prospecting companies operating in Urhoboland that the board will do all that is needed to be done to end incidences of oil destructions in the area.