The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Uyo has said that it is currently prosecuting about 69 suspected crude oil thieves in Akwa Ibom.

Akwa Ibom state is the largest oil the largest oil producing state in Nigeria, with perhaps the largest number of oil wells littered all over the state. The state is a frontline member of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The suspected crude oil thieves were said to have been apprehended between January and March 2022 at various parts of the state.

Addressing newsmen in the state capital, Uyo, the NSCDC state commandant, Mr. Abidemi Majekodunmi, said the arrests were in line with the corps mandate of protecting critical government and ensuring that economic saboteurs were brought to justice.

He said that the suspects are being charged to court. “Those found guilty would face the full wrath of the law,” he said. 

According to him, in the first quarter of the year, the agency placed significant emphasis on the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure.

“Here in Akwa Ibom, we do know that the network of pipelines are much and definitely, we have criminals and non-state actors tampering with the pipelines for economic profiteering and sabotage.

“What we have done is to ensure that we deploy intelligence, capitals and assets to ensure that we do activities that serve as deterrent to these non-state actors that are always eager to steal petroleum products.

“When we get quality intelligence, we plan and execute operations to arrest. Currently, we have about seven boats. In that particular case, we have 69 suspects and illegal dealers in petroleum products.

“They have been charged to court and of course, we have done investigations and profiling of the cases for the court to do the appropriate adjudication,” he said.

The NSCDC state commandant said that the command was proactive in intelligence gathering across the 31 local government areas of the state, to check criminality.

Majekodunmi said that NSCDC over the years had deployed technology to reach all criminal hideouts as part of its crime fighting efforts in the state. He called on communities to protect government infrastructure in their domain against vandalism and to see the facilities as their own.

He warned oil thieves, pipeline vandals and other criminals to relocate from the state as the command would deal decisively with all economic saboteurs.

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