The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Baba, says the police leadership is committed to sustaining the fight against oil theft and other crimes capable of sabotaging the country’s economy.
He explained that the police would continuously develop an improved capacity of officers through practical training and acquiring top-notch investigative and operational assets to ensure the menace was reduced to the barest minimum.
A statement on Sunday by the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, revealed that the police chief made the remarks while briefing a probe panel comprising members of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Oil Lifting, Theft and the Impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues, via a report on the activities of the IGP Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering.
Baba, during the session held last Wednesday, recounted the achievements of the IGP Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering (STFPIB) – the police unit charged with the responsibility of tackling the specialized crimes in the period under review.
These include the seizure of 1,301,020 litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), 135,000 litres of crude oil, 4,900 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), 45,000 litres of engine oil, and 123 vessels comprising tankers, lorries, barges, buses, lorries, and other vehicles.
“The Unit currently has 52 cases under prosecution nationwide,” the statement said. “In one of the cases, operatives of the IGP-STFPIB successfully discovered and busted the operations of an illegal refinery on 21st September 2022 in Jijoro Community Riverside, Delta State, a creek of about an hour boat ride.
“Suspected illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) stuffed in 138 sacks, 10 empty surface tanks (ovens) used as cooking pots, 20 empty drums for storage, one boat engine, and two pumping machines were recovered. Three suspects, Happy Gift Lawson ‘M’ aged 18, Ejime Precious Lande ‘M’ aged 22, and John Jugu Fom ‘M’ aged 25 were equally arrested.”
It added, “Similarly, on 9th September 2022, following intelligence received from the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Command and Control Centre Portal, operatives of the IGP-STFPIB proceeded to the Rumuekini Area of Port Harcourt, Rivers State where they discovered a warehouse within a residential building storing about 15,000 litres of petroleum products suspected to be illegally refined AGO stuffed in sacks.
“The products were recovered as well as one white Mack tanker, one plastic storage tank, one barrel drum, and one pumping machine. One Franklin Osuagwu aged 29 was arrested at the scene in connection with the offence.”
According to Adejobi, samples of the products have been collected for laboratory analysis while the suspects will be charged to court at the conclusion of investigations for effective prosecution in line with extant laws.
The IGP, on his part, restated that the police would not relent in enforcing all laws as statutorily empowered to charge all suspects arrested for oil theft and other related offences accordingly, without any prejudice.
He also called for increased support, particularly in expanding the scope of the courts and conferring jurisdictional competence to hear petroleum and illegal bunkering matters, as well as provision of storage capacity for exhibits recovered during special operations pending the determination of suits by the courts.