Oil Theft: We Apprehended Many Soldiers Involved — INC Chief Reveals

The Evangelist edition
October 16, 2022

FOR many years, security personnel deployed in the Niger Delta to guard oil installations and stop crude oil bunkering had turned themselves into oil bandits in collusion with some International Oil Companies, IOCs, government officials and oil bunkers.

They all blamed community folks and minor bunkers for illegally refining crude with amateur technology in the creeks.

There was nobody to speak out for the endangered communities until the Minister of State for Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, and Group Managing Director of NNPCL, Dr. Mele Kyari, under immense pressure from President Muhammadu Buhari, to stop the increasing oil theft, thought out of the box.

Sylva and Kyari had been in contact separately and mutually with the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, for more than a year over the worsening theft.

Their discussions convinced the duo that he could be a magic wand, but each time Tompolo’s name came up in Aso Villa, and private meetings, some top security officials pooh-poohed the idea.

It was easy for Buhari, who, in 2016, canceled a “no cure no pay” contract that Global West, a company in which Tompolo served, as a technical partner, without a lucid understanding of the surrounding intrigues, to agree with the naysayers.

However, with each passing day in their discussions and intelligence from Tompolo on the connivance of security and industry officials without which the massive thieving would not be possible, Sylva and Kyari approached Buhari with accessible facts.

They did not find it difficult getting the buy-in of the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor, who already had the instructions of the Commander-in-Chief to confront the situation head-on and bring the perpetrators to book.

Finally, a converted President approved the hiring of Tompolo, especially as the private surveillance contractors, who had been on the job, in the last few years, had done little

The trio of Irabor, Sylva, and Kyari are together, ever since, in the battle.

Tompolo’s engagement by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) triggered quite some controversy, but Sylva and Kyari were unmoved by the many distractions.

What was clear to them was that the illegal bunkering points had to be discovered and clamped; conspiring security and industry officials also had to be identified and disciplined, and the entire surveillance system overhauled for oil production to pick up once again.

Its learned that some top security officials serving in Lagos and Abuja were part of the oil-bunkering consortium with their foot soldiers in the oil-rich region.

The oil cabal allegedly sponsored a campaign of calumny against Tompolo, recruiting some youths to protest against the ex-militant leader handling pipeline surveillance contracts in their areas.

It was not surprising when the former militant leader, who boasted that he knows the in-and-out of all the creeks in the Niger Delta, started making startling discoveries, less than a month, after his company, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, TSSNL, was engaged.

Working with selected security officials, Tompolo’s men uncovered large-scale and sophisticated oil theft machinery going on in the deep swamps at Yokri, close to the Forcados Terminal.

According to reports, experts use high-powered technology to steal crude oil from the trans-Forcados pipeline, which belongs to the NNPCL and its partners, and convey it through a four-kilometer underwater pipeline to a platform in the sea, where they loaded into vessels and sell overseas.

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