The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta on March 28, 2014, Friday, announced the arrest of members of a syndicate specializing in crude oil theft. The members of the group, which included two Britons, have been arrested shortly after offering a bribe to the officials.
The suspects, who brought $66,500 (N10.6 million) to the JTF as the first half of the total N20m bribe, were paraded at the JTF Headquarters in Yenagoa on Friday.
The cash exhibit was also displayed before journalists.
JTF command explained that a representative of the syndicate approached the JTF with an approval letter from Naval Headquarters for a vessel, NNS Delta, to evacuate petroleum products.
Based on the letter, the JTF said it granted the approval and directed its troops to monitor the activities of the firm in the water ways.
The oil theft syndicate unfolded a plan to hack into Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) pipeline in Chamoni creek near Warri to siphon crude.
“The oil theft syndicate offered the Operation Officer of JTF’s 3 Battalion an initial payment of 5,000 for ‘recharge card’ and $1,500 to fuel the gunboat that will escort the stolen crude.
“The two British Nationals subsequently requested a meeting with the Brigade Commander of 4 Brigade where the suspects expressed their desire to connect a hose to SPDC pipeline along the Chanomi creek in Delta state to illegally siphon crude oil into barges.
“The foreign nationals promised to bribe the Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Fidelis Azinta with N20 million and to take care of officers and soldiers along the Chanomi creek.
“On March 21, 2014, one of the suspects brought $60,000 (N10.2 million) as part payment for the N20 million pledge, the suspects were immediately arrested for attempting to bribe the Brigade Commander for economic sabotage,” the JTF spokesperson revealed.
The JTF Commander said the two British suspects, and 12 technicians they hired to drill into the pipeline and connect the hoses to steal crude, were arrested and their tools seized.
The suspects would be handed over to the Department of State Security Service for prosecution.
It would be noted that Nigeria loses tens of thousands of barrels of crude to oil thieves daily.
Source: Premium Times