By TARKAA DAVID |
The boom in crude oil theft and illegal refineries in the Niger Delta creeks have been attributed to the alleged collusion of Nigerian Navy personnel with criminal elements who perpetrate the sabotage on the nation’s economy.
Investigations revealed that some of the illegal refineries are allegedly owned by Navy personnel who run them by proxy.
This is just as villagers have accused the Nigerian military personnel deployed to forestall farmers/herders clashes in Benue State of colluding with herders to flout the state ‘anti open grazing law’ and destroy farmlands.
The villagers particularly accused the leader of the team deployed at Uleva in Uvir Council Ward in Guma local government area of collecting bribe and facilitating influx of herders into the community and displacing the inhabitants.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP on the condition of anonymity, the source said the military now harbours armed herders in the community and supervise destruction of farmlands by herders.
The source said most residents have started fleeing the village while others are living in fear.
The source alleged that the soldiers supervised the destruction of cassava plantations in the swamp after collecting huge sum from the armed herders.
The inability to end crude oil theft and illegal bunkering is also linked to the roles of these corrupt personnel who compromise the genuine efforts by security operatives to check all forms of criminality in the Maritime domain.
According to reliable sources, security operatives may not be able to end crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, which they said “is a huge business” in the Niger Delta creeks. “Those who are supposed to fight the crime are those abetting it,” the source added.
The sources further noted that, “The operators of illegal refineries pay heavy amounts of money to the Navy personnel to allow them operate. They only destroy the refining sites when they have misunderstanding about payments or when a new officer takes charge and wants to impress his superiors but after a while he will also join the business”.
Also corroborating this claim, the Domestic Refineries Owners Association of Nigeria, an umbrella body of private refineries
operators, said they ‘settle’ (pay) the Navy Personnel on weekly or monthly basis depending on the agreement.
A member of the association, who did not want to be mentioned for obvious security reasons, disclosed further that some of the Navy personnel who they work with, also own their own refining sites which are operated on their behalf.
The source said, “Before now we used to have cordial relationship with the Navy and other security agencies, they will all us to embark on what they call illegal refineries and we will be paying them at the end of the production. At times we pay them weekly, at times we pay them daily. But having looked at critically on our own part, we discovered that we are losing because after having dialogue with them, their superiors will give order and they will dismantle the thing, after one week they will also come to us and say ‘go ahead with your business’.”