The military said shortage of gunboats and fast-assault craft were partly responsible for increased crude oil theft.
The Nigerian government’s effort at combating oil theft using the military has been undermined by the lack of necessary fighting equipment, a senior military official said Sunday.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Army Division Enugu, Maj.-Gen. Adebayo Olaniyi, said the shortage of gunboats and fast-assault craft were partly responsible for increased oil theft in the Niger Delta Region.
The GOC made the disclosure to newsmen in Port Harcourt after an operational tour of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Sector-Two operation formations in Rivers.
Mr. Olaniyi said the tour had enabled him to better access the troop’s readiness to combat oil theft and meet with stakeholders to discuss ways of improving JTF’s operations.
He said shortage of gunboats and fast assault crafts had weighed down the military’s renewed strategy to effectively patrol creeks round the clock.
“If the JTF had adequate gunboats and fast assault crafts; it will improve our patrol and monitoring of the creeks, as well as guarantee quick response of our troops to reported crime scenes,” he said.
“Constant patrols and monitoring of the creeks will discourage oil thieves and pipeline vandals from perpetrating their nefarious activities of sabotaging the economy of the country.
“If these facilities were sufficiently provided by the government; the efficiency and proficiency of our troops in policing the creeks will witness significant improvement.
“Communities can also assist the JTF by providing us timely information that will lead to the arrest of oil thieves so as to discourage youth involvement in illegal oil bunkering activities,” he said.
Mr. Olaniyi said the fight against oil theft was the responsibility of Nigerians, irrespective of their class, to ensure economic growth and prosperity of the country.
He said any soldier or officer found complicit in oil theft, will be severely dealt with in accordance with the Army Code of Conduct.
The GOC held meetings with the officials of Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) , amongst others.
Meanwhile, three persons suspected to be kingpins behind re-occurring rupturing of pipelines in Rivers were arrested and paraded before reporters.
Mr. Olaniyi said the suspects where trailed and arrested by troops from the 2 Brigade Sector-Two of the JTF Operation Pulo Shield command.
According to him, the suspects have made confessional statements of regular puncture of pipelines and investigation is still ongoing to unravel their sponsors and partners.
Mr. Olaniyi said that repair works had commenced on the damaged pipeline facilities to ensure increase in crude oil production.
“Production level of oil producing companies will soon increase due to JTF renewed strategy and commitment towards the elimination of oil theft and illegal oil bunkering activities in the Niger Delta Region,” he said. (NAN)
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