The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has confirmed that the police’s Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering has confiscated 123 oil vessels comprising tankers, lorries, barges, buses, lorries and other vehicles.
The unit, he said, has also seized 1,301,020 litres of Automotive Gas Oil, 135,000 litres of crude oil, 4,900 litres of Premium Motor Spirit and 45,000 litres of engine oil.
Force spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, adding that the force is prosecuting 52 of such cases nationwide.
Baba reiterated his administration’s commitment to continuously improve the capacity of its officers through training and acquiring top-notch investigative and operational assets to sustain the fight against oil theft and other crimes capable of sabotaging the country’s economy.
Adejobi said, “In one of the cases, operatives of the IGP-STFPIB successfully discovered the operations of an illegal refinery on September 21, 2022, in Jijoro Community Riverside, Delta State, a creek of about one-hour boat ride.
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“Suspected illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil 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 Lawson, male, aged 18, Ejime Lande, male, aged 22, and John From, male, aged 25 were arrested.
“Similarly, on September 9, 2022, following intelligence received from the Nigeria National Petroleum Company 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,”
He noted that samples of the products have been collected for laboratory analysis, while the suspects will be charged to court after investigations for effective prosecution in line with extant laws.
“The Inspector-General of Police restates that the Nigeria Police Force will not relent in enforcing all laws as it is statutorily empowered to do by the effect of Section 4 (d) of the Police Act, 2020, and so charge all suspects arrested for oil theft and other related offences accordingly, without any prejudice.
“Also, the IGP has called for increased support particularly in expanding the scope of our courts and confer jurisdictional competence to hear petroleum and illegal bunkering matters, as well as provision of storage capacity for exhibits recovered during special operation pending the determination of a suit by the courts,” he said.