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Illegal Oil Bunkering Discovered In Port Harcourt

An illegal oil bunkering site was, over the weekend, discovered at the government-owned Ship Builders Yard facility in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“Commodore Sanusi Ibrahim, Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, who took newsmen to the illegal site on Sunday, said five suspects were arrested at the scene.
He said naval troops were immediately deployed to the site at Makoba Beach, shortly after a whistleblower revealed the location of the illegal site.
“Several drums loaded with stolen diesel and two trucks waiting to load petroleum products among other equipment were seen at the site. Five suspects, including a driver and three conductors of the trucks, were arrested while others fled the scene on sighting advancing naval operatives,” he said.
Represented by Lt. Cdr. Sunday Haruna, the NNS Pathfinder Base Operation Officer, Ibrahim said investigations were on-going to identify sources of the products and those who patronise the site.
He said that the suspects were currently being questioned in order to identity the operators of the site and how they carried out the illicit business without detection.
In the meantime, the Presidency, weekend, asked Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, where ex-militants carried out a three-day bombing of crude oil and gas pipelines some weeks ago, to hand over to the security operatives, perpetrators of the bomb attack believed to be hiding in their areas.
The presidency also urged the communities not to entertain fear of bombardment by security agencies, but to demonstrate patriotism by handing over suspects behind the recent bombing.
The Presidential directive came through the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, yesterday, just as the JTF, which boasted, penultimate week, that it was closing in on the perpetrators, started arresting more suspects for interrogation at the weekend.
The crackdown on the suspected bombers by the task force heightened tension in most Ijaw communities with some leaders, the Ijaw Youth Council, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI and others, calling on the government and task force to be lawful in their action.
Adesina said: “Ijaw communities need not fear. What they can rather do is to hand over culprits hiding in their midst to the authorities. If they have identified those who blew up pipelines, and who are taking refuge in their communities, as good citizens, they should hand them over to law enforcement agents.
“Ijaws are Nigerians and good ones too. They should not allow a little leaven to destroy the whole lump. Rather, they should demonstrate patriotism by giving up evildoers. Such exists everywhere, and the onus is on good people not to shelter them.
“There are rules of engagement for every operation, and you can be sure that the Nigerian military will do what is right,” he stated.
Spurning suggestion that the Presidency was out to disgrace ex-MEND leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, because of his alleged closeness to former president Goodluck Jonathan, he said: “The question of anybody being humiliated due to closeness to the former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan does not exist.
“This is not a vengeful government, and right on inauguration day, President Muhammadu Buhari had indicated that nobody needs fear that he would be out for vengeance. In his National Day broadcast on October 1 last year, the President also said people should not be afraid of his person, but fear the consequences of their actions. Therefore, nobody should fear humiliation on account of being close to anybody, as long as such person has clean hands.”
On whether the Federal Government was looking into the allegation by Tompolo that some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, were behind the bombing, he said: “The Presidency should not be looking into allegations, when already security agencies have been empowered and positioned to do so. Anybody can claim anything, and the President has too much on his hands to allow such to constitute distraction.”
According to him, “every Nigerian is the same, no matter his status or standing. If anybody says there is attempt to rope him into anything, the security agencies are there to establish the truth. When the President said he belonged to everybody, it meant that a level playing field would be created for all Nigerians.”
Responding to the call for political solution to the Tompolo face-off with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and his linkage to the bombing, he said: “The President will always be open to dialogue and finding of political solutions. That was why he said the government was ready to dialogue with Boko Haram, if the authentic leadership was determined. With respect to the Niger Delta, the same will subsist, but it would not translate to condoning sheer criminality.”
He, however, pointed out that “if anybody has committed a crime, he must be ready to answer for it. Being open to political solution does not mean indulging criminality. Do not forget, people must always be ready for the consequences of their actions. It is only natural.”
Commenting on the widespread allegation that the EFCC had acquired a bad image with its handling of suspects, he said: “EFCC allegedly having a bad image is your opinion. It does not mean you are correct.”
Authoritative sources confided in Vanguard, yesterday, that the JTF has made remarkable progress in the arrest of some suspects connected with the pipelines bombing, but it was not willing to make public comments on its investigations so far.
Spokesperson for Operation Pulo Shield, Col Isa Ado, who spoke on phone to Vanguard took time to explain that it was detrimental for the task force to disclose the arrests it had made.
He said the mandate of the task force was to protect crude oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region and because of the recent bombings, it has intensified its operations more than ever before.
Col Ado said: “Please, we do not want to make comments until the operation to fish out the perpetrators is over. Statements will jeopardize our investigation, but what I can tell you is that we are in hot pursuit of them and we have made tremendous progress.”
He said the oil and gas facilities were very critical to the economy of the country and the task force would stop at nothing to smoke out the bombers, who he described as saboteurs.

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