The Joint Task Force, JTF, yesterday arrested a traditional ruler and three others for alleged involvement in the theft of 2,000 tonnes of crude oil in the creeks of Akassa in Brass Local Government, Bayelsa State.
It was gathered that the vessel conveying the crude oil was not licensed and was believed to be owned by a third class traditional ruler in Brass community.
It was also learnt that the crew of the vessel claimed the monarch was their sponsor, prompting his arrest.
According to a security source, the JTF in the last few days had been on the trail of unlicensed vessels and their owners. “We discovered that the boys came under the cover of the night and siphoned crude oil from the oil pipelines along the Brass – Sangana River in Akassa area.
"We have discovered that some of these traditional rulers and community heads provide cover and funding for the activities of these oil thieves in Bayelsa. We have started a series of collaboration with communities but we will not spare those directly involved in the illicit trade” the source said.
Meanwhile the coordinator of the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiatives (IPDI), Austin Ozobo has asked the government to give the local refinery operators legal backing and encouragement, to improve the qualities of their operation and provide thousands of job for jobless youths in the country.
“The Federal Government should stop awarding surveillance contracts, but spend these billions of naira to transform the operations of the illegal refineries in the communities," he said.
The Chairman of the CLO in the state, Chief Nengi James charged security agencies to pay close attention to top Nigerians that sponsor illegal oil bunkering.
When contacted, the spokesman of JTF, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said he was yet to receive details of the arrest.