Five, including woman arrested for oil bunkering in Warri

oil2Five persons, including a woman, have been arrested, following a raid in Warri, Delta State, by the security arm of the Joint Task Force (JTF) a.k.a. Operation Restore Hope.

The arrest of the suspected oil thieves in a raid at Arwol Waterside, near Main Market, Warri following a tip off, is coming on the heels of the handing over for further investigation by the JTF of five Ghanaians arrested recently with a ship filled with stolen crude oil.

“The five Ghanaians and their Nigerian collaborator earlier arrested by JTF for engaging in illegal oil bunkering in Niger Delta have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for prosecution” a JTF statement said, saying, “This is in compliance with the Due Process and Rule of Law policies of the Federal Government.”

Their Nigerian accomplice, who claimed to hail from Delta State was arrested along with the ghanaians; while the involvement in the illegal business by a Lagos-based businessman (owner of the vessel) is also reportedly being invested by security authorities.

The suspects were arrested with quantity 7,225 litres of substance suspected to be AGO in the early hours of January 22.  During preliminary investigations, suspects revealed that products were bought from Ayakurama Village where crude oil was illegally refined, a statement signed by JTF spokesman, Col. Rabe Abubakar said..

It gave the names of the five suspects as Madam Grace Couple (55) from Ogidigben Village, Ebi Alex (27) from Ogboguma Village and Thompson Maika (35) from Ayakurama Village in Burutu Local Government Area; Charlie Alex (37) from Orogo Village, Ughelli South Local Government Area and Kingsley Pira (25) from Obidigbe in Escravos Community, Warri South Local Government Area.

The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre (JMCC), Abubakar said: “The war on bunkering is an ongoing one,” adding, “The JTF would stop at nothing in sanitizing the Niger Delta region and setting it free from the grips of unpatriotic illegal oil thieves.”

The Ghanaian suspects, who simply told newsmen at the JTF headquarters, where they were paraded on January 5, 2009 that they were working for the businessman simply known as “Captain Ken based in Lagos,” and who allegedly hired the ship and brought it from Ghana into the Nigerian waters, supposedly for repairs.

Moreover, the JTF, which carried out the arrest also appeared reluctant to take the confessional statements of the suspects as a possible lead that would enable them pursue and arrest the first real baron among the Niger-Delta oil thieves since its inception in 2003.

The ship, whose original name is “SANDRA VELLETA LAGOS” but disguised as “MT HOPE”, was already loaded with suspected stolen crude oil “to the tone of 4, 000 metric tons – that is, 25, 000 barrels – which, if monetized, runs into millions of dollars”, the Joint Media Campaign Centre (JMCC) Co-ordinator, Abubakar, said.

The ‘leader’ of the suspects, 42-year old Opoku Frank Anim, who is from Tema Region of Ghana, was apparently economical with details of their ill-fated voyage, his compatriot, Wellington Adobah (51) claimed that they were provided a local pilot by their employer, Captain Ken, and told they were taking the ship for repairs at the Escravos waters in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.

He claimed that when they entered the area, some speedboats with armed men intercepted their own vessel and forced them to change course until they arrived the Chanomi Creek where their ‘captors’ began loading the vessel indiscriminately with crude oil from a well head using many hoses at once.

He further claimed that the Nigerian suspect, Ochukwu Omeorere had assured them that he had spoken with the said Captain Ken, who reportedly advised them to co-operate with those who seized the ship “because they are very dangerous people, but that they would ensure that our ship got out of the area safely.”

Abubakar restated “the determination of the Commander JTF, Brigadier-General Rimtip, in fighting oil thieves to a standstill”, advising the youths to “take up legitimate economic activities, which would save them any harassment and sleeplessness.

“The Federal Government is uncompromising in its stand and will, to eradicating illegal oil bunkering and militancy in this region through the JTF”, he said.

Source: This Day

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