As the operatives of the Tantita security services limited owned by Ex-militant Niger Delta militant leader, Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo are moving into the nooks and cranies of the region and recording achievements, they are receiving death threats from persons believed to be behind theft of Nigeria’s oil as exposed by the company.
Confirming the development, a media consultant with Tompolo, Dr. Paul Bebenimibo, told Leadership Sunday that operatives of Tantita Security Services Limited who have exposed illegal pipelines being used for theft of crude oil in the various parts of Niger Delta have come under attack of gunmen desperate to sustain the illegal activities.
The aide, who identified himself as Waterway Crayfish, quoted Tompolo as saying those bombarding him and his household with threat messages over the surveillance job he secured from the Federal Government are saboteurs who would continue to have his security outfit to contend with.
He said the discovery of an illegal oil pipeline that was attached to the Forcados oil trunk and the burning of oil bunkering vessel on the region’s high sea, were testimonies of the riot act he read against oil thieves.
“Our Tantita Security Services Limited in the Creeks has been getting steady threat messages from suspected oil thieves to stop the illegal business of oil bunkering. No amount of threat and mudslinging would derail us from beaming searchlight on discoveries of illegal pipelines that were attached to the Forcados Terminal into the sea.
“For threat messages, it is normal. Since illegal oil vessels were intercepted some weeks ago, the threat messages assumed a dangerous dimension. Just yesterday (last week) here, they sent messages to threaten me, but we have remained unperturbed. It is something we can handle. We are knowledgeable about the operation in the territorial waters of Nigeria and as a former militant, I clearly have the capacity to combat any possible attack from any illegal bunkerer with my men,” he said.
It was gathered that gunmen recently attacked the personnel of Tantita Security at Aleibiri community, Ekeremor LGA in Bayelsa State during which a 200HP speed boat was reportedly stolen. However, the coordinator of the unit which was attacked was able to calm his boys and prevent retaliatory attack on the community as they investigate to find the culprits.
Also members of the Tantita Security Service owned by Tompolo had averted a bloody protest by some youths in Bayelsa State over allege non-inclusion in the ongoing execution of the N4 billion crude oil pipeline surveillance contract awarded by the NNPC.
The angry Youths, numbering hundreds, had on Tuesday disrupted vehicular traffic along the Imiringi road leading to the residence of the coordinator of Tantita Security Services Nig, Ltd in Bayelsa, Great Joshua MacIver, in protest against allege non-inclusion in the process of monitoring and stopping the dreaded illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalisation in the region.
Within few weeks NNPC took action to stop illegal bunkering activities by awarding of pipeline surveillance contract to a company belonging to Tompolo, the company has been able to discover a 4 km long illegal oil pipeline that connects to the Forcados Terminal from the high sea been used for nine years without interruption to siphon oil.
The operation of the illegal refineries which over the years has affected the environment and drastically reduced the major occupation of the people living in the coastal and waterways communities of Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta region are said to be picking up.
The situation has rightly received mixed reactions among Nigerians, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC) confirmed this, saying some Nigerians were not shocked by the discovery because they were aware that cartels of local and foreign accomplices in high places, some of whom are even in the public service, were responsible for the illegal bunkering activities.
Alaowei Cleric, the chairman of CHURAC’s board of trustees, noted that Tompolo, the man responsible for the NNPC Limited’s success, has shown he is able to stop crude oil theft in the Niger Delta and claimed that Tompolo’s initiatives are already having a positive impact on the economy.
“This is just one of the many syndicates all over the region, milking our economy dry. We can’t dispute the NNPC’s claim that Nigeria is losing about 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day to economic saboteurs. Our consolation, however, is that with Tompolo given the contract to secure the oil pipelines, oil thieves are already having a bad day,” he said.
He pointed out that NNPC Limited has achieved a feat it hasn’t been able to accomplish for the past 22 years, fighting crude oil theft, While urging Nigerians to assist in the task in order to achieve the desired results,
However, Chief Rita-Lori Ogbebor, a Delta woman activist opposed the award of a N48 billion surveillance contract to Tompolo. She cautioned the federal government against igniting a war in the oil-rich region and called for the immediate revocation of the pipeline surveillance contract to individuals in the area.
A’Ibom: Oil Thefts Continue As Ex-Militants Oppose Surveillance Contract To Tompolo
Oil pipeline vandalism, oil theft and other maritime crimes including piracy, have continued on the waterways around the coastal communties of Akwa Ibom state, despite the multi-billion naira pipelines security contract awarded to former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
In the wake of the contract award, qngry Niger Delta ex-militants of Akwa Ibom state extraction had protested exclusion from the deal, arguing that “all the militant groups, who were part of the Federal Government amnesty programmes, from across the Niger Delta states, should be accommodated or risk resurgence of hostilities that could destroy the surveillance contract.”
Besides, the ex-agitators, about two months ago, had given the Federal Government a one month ultimatum within which to revoke the alleged N138.7 billion oil pipelines surveillance contract in the State to the Pipelines Infrastructure Limited (PIL), a firm, they alleged, belongs to the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse, III, “or risk return of creeks’ violence.”
Under the aegis of Unyekisong Akwa Ibom (UIA), the ex-agitators, expressed dismay before journalists in Uyo, the state capital, even as they decried their exclusion in the deal, warning that “the only adequate compensation is to revoke the contract and re-award it to our members within a month for peace in the oil communities of Akwa Ibom state.”
The leaders of the coalition including, ex-Genenal Dede Udofia for Unyekisong Akwa Ibom, ex-Major Ibanga Ekang, Special Operations and Strike Team Leader; Gen. Ukpe Sampson, Niger Delta Strike Force (NDSF) and others, expressed dismay that they were being undermined by the FG, after luring them to drop their arms to embrace the amnesty deal.
“The pipeline surveillance contract should be given to ex-militants from the state, just like it has been awarded to a former militants’ leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, from the same Delta State like the Warri monarch.
“The award of oil pipelines surveillance contract to Tompolo, is well deserved as an ex-agitator, we therefore, demand that Akwa Ibom state part be awarded to ex-militants’ leader, who is an indigene of Akwa Ibom state, who would be able to work with all the stakeholders, youth groups and all agitating groups in the state.”
However, checks by our correspondent revealed that activities of the pipeline vandals, and oil thieves continue with reckless abandon across the oil communities of Ibeno, (operational area of ExxonMobil), as well as Uruan, Mbo, Eket and Edit Eket Local Government Areas, ostensibly because of the threat by the ex-agitators from Akwa Ibom.
Dr. Ufot Phenson, a community leader and Chairman, Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Community Network (AKIPCON), who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday, lamented high level oil theft around the core oil communities of Eket, Ibeno, Onna, Mbo and Esit Eket, nothing that “lack of sufficient deterrence by security agencies have exercabated the crimes along the coastal communties of the state.”
Along the ‘Akwa Akpa’ (major ocean) connecting the Gulf of Guinea region, the Navy’s Forward Operating Base (FOB), stationed at Ibaka in Mbo LGA, and over-looking the Gulf of Guinea, Lt. Cdr., Daniel Onyemaeze, the operating officer, our Correspondent garthered, had been battling oil thieves in a combined raid of the waterways with operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).
According to Onyemaeze, the routine raids ordered by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), have yielded successes with large haul of petroleum products sezed and several suspects arrested in connection with the crimes handed over to the NSCDC operatives for onward handover to the Police for prosecution.
Besides, the NSCDC in Eket LGA, according to the Corps’ Public Relations Officer (PRO), DSC, Eketette Friday, disclosed that the recent raids of locations in Eket LGA, had led to the discovery of illegal tank farms, used in storing illicit petroleum products by the suspected oil thieves and arrest of suspected criminals.