In its continuous quest to curb the menace of crude oil theft as encapsulated in the Strategic Guidance 01 of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, weekend smashed a top oil theft syndicate in Rivers State.
THISDAY investigations revealed that the syndicate, which has over 100 tank farms where the stolen products were hidden, had successfully carried out daily massive sales before its nefarious activities became known to security operatives.
It was also gathered that in the state, the syndicate’s reach spanned over seven communities through which the well-oiled major oil theft production in the state prospered and boomed.
The suspects had engineered their nefarious activities such that the tank farms and refineries had pipes that ran several kilometres and were connected to the respective houses of members from where they attend to their customers.
During the raid by personnel of NNS PATHFINDER under the Commanding Officer (CO), Commodore Emmanuel Duja Effedua, they discovered the communities involved in the illegality to include Idama, Ikpokri, One man Camp, Kii, Ele Creeks and Bille, KM 45, where several local tank farms used in storing illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and crude oil were located.
Confirming the incident to THISDAY on the telephone, the Base Information Officer, NNS PATHFINDER, Lieutenant Abdulsalam Sani, said the special task force instituted by the command had carried out the raid based on a tip off.
He said: “The NNS PATHFINDER carried out more raids in those communities and other accessories used in these criminal acts were destroyed.
No arrest was however made but we are going back next week to destroy the remaining tank farms.
‘In Ikpokri alone, we discovered over 30 tank farms and in KM45, it was uncountable. These people probably bunker pipelines and connect it to their tank farms and then supply to their numerous customers.”
“The base once again is warning landlords, village heads and community leaders that anybody whose house is conjoined with the illegal tank farms/refineries and fails to report, should consider such houses as collateral damage.
“Such houses would be destroyed alongside these illegal facilities when we carry out our tearing down operation. This warning will not be repeated. However, investigations are on to trace the source of the products in the tank farm.”