Top Politicians, Monarchs Behind Oil Thefts In Niger Delta—-JTF
By Wisdom Patrick, Lagos
Just as the leadership of the Nigerian Navy is making arrangement to partner the United States of America, USA, security agencies to fight crude oil theft in the Gulf of Guinea, a senior Military officer attached to the Joint Task Force, JTF, in Port Harcourt has fingered top politicians and some monarchs in the Nigeria Delta region as supporters and backers of oil thieves in the region.
The source who is a commander of one of the units of the JTF, told Political Economist that since he was re-deployed from Delta State to Rivers, ” I have discovered that traditional rulers and top politicians in the region would not want oil theft to end. This is because, they make good money from the business. They even finance some of the operations.”
According to him, “apart from financing, one out of five oil thieves arrested by JTF, must be a relative or son of one traditional ruler or an influential person of that particular state. This may sound like a typical tale by moonlight stuff but that is the hard fact.”
The source who pleaded anonymity stressed that, if the government was serious in curtailing the activities of oil criminals, “government must first look inward, deal with the root of the problem first before looking at the rest part of the problem. I can confirmed to you that what the Minister of Finance said that Nigeria is losing daily is very minute compared to what we (JTF) know.”
He stated that on several occasions, when any of the oil thieves are arrested by the security agents including JTF, “people that would be coming to beg for their release are either top politicians, traditional rulers, government functionaries. You would be shocked that as they are talking to you, a call is coming into your phone from a top Military officer from Abuja ordering you to release the suspects.”
The soldier who confessed he was fed-up with the insincerity of government in the fight against oil theft, added that criminals in the region are stealing the country dry, “some of them have no other jobs, no other means of livelihood, lazy and academically inadequate, so they cannot do any other thing other than stealing oil.”
He said he has so far spent 13 months with the JTF in both Delta and currently in Rivers, “I have seen more than enough. I am even gathering data, pictures and facts, one day I hope to write a book on this subject because this is not fair, it is injustice of the highest order.”
The JTF operative said, ” I decided to speak to you because I know you would not sell me out like one other journalist in Port Harcourt that i spoke to and he decided to go behind to the oil barons and finished me there, today he is on their payroll and would not write any negative story again about oil theft in the country.”
He added that Nigerians should wonder aloud why no single local oil thief is facing trial despite all the criminalities going on and arrests made on daily basis by the security operatives. “The thing is that, it would never happen because, suspects would not even be taken to court. The moment you make an arrest, within 24 hours, those arrested have been ordered to be freed and they all return to the trade.”
Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recently said that it was just a matter of time, before oil thieves would run the country’s economy to a halt. According to her, some 1.6 million barrels of crude oil is allegedly stolen from Nigeria every day.