The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has arrested 69 oil thieves and vandals in Akwa Ibom State within the first quarter of 2022.
Speaking on Thursday in Uyo, the state Commandant of the NSCDC, Mr Abidemi Majekodunmi, stated that 16 illegal refinery operators had also been arrested.
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Majekodunmi said it was the duty of the NSCDC to protect government’s critical infrastructure and ensure that economic saboteurs in the state were brought to a standstill.
He mentioned that to prevent crime, the command had been proactive in intelligence gathering across the 31 local government areas of the state.
He said, “In the first quarter of the year, we 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 criminal and non-state actors tampering with the pipelines for economic profiteering and sabotage.
“What we have done is to ensure that we deploy intelligence, capital and assets to make sure that we do activities that serve as a deterrence to these non-state actors that were always eager to steal petroleum products.
“When we get quality intelligence, we plan and execute operations to make arrests. We also have, currently, about seven boats. In that particular case, we have 69 suspects, illegal dealers in petroleum products.
“They have been charged and of course, we have made investigations and done profiling, so those cases are currently in court for appropriate adjudication.
“We’ve also made arrests of some people who go to load products from illegal local refineries and we have made about 16 arrests in that respect. The oil industry represents a critical element in the Nigerian economy and therefore this economic belt requires a lot of protection.”
Majekodunmi called on communities with critical government infrastructure to see the infrastructure as their own and protect them against vandalism.
He said the agency had been involved in conflict management especially in boundary related disputes, and had successfully arbitrated on such matters.