The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Bayelsa State Command, has intercepted stolen petroleum products conveyed in a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
It was gathered that the vehicle, a Toyota Hilux van, which was used by the suspects to beat security checkpoints, was rounded up on Thursday in Yenagoa, by the anti-vandal team of NSCDC.
One of the suspects identified as Philip Tuma confessed that he worked in the ministry and was allowed by the ministry’s authority to keep the vehicle with registration number 28A-36FG in his care.
He, however, said his boss in the ministry knew nothing about his illegal mission of using the vehicle to transport stolen oil.
Tuma said he embarked on the dirty deal in connivance with his younger brothers, who were idle at home following the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
“I work in the ministry and was given the bus to keep as a worker. My boss has no knowledge of what I have done. This is my first time.
“My younger ones, who are at home because of the ASUU strike convinced me to follow them because they needed money for their fees”, he said.
Also, a female suspect, Mercy Ekereme, paraded for her alleged involvement in illegal bunkering, said she was arrested by NSCDC while trying to convey the products from Ogbia to Yenagoa.
Ekereme, who hailed from Delta State, said she was once a hawker of sachet water but was introduced into the oil theft business by an unnamed woman.
“The woman who introduced me into this oil business saw me selling pure water and said my pure water business was embarrassing. She helped me to get a loan and linked me with a dealer who gives me products to sell.
“I got the product and decided to take them to Yenagoa. I met a man who came to buy fuel into a Hilux vehicle for his boss. We agreed on a fare and he decided to carry the products to Yenagoa. But we were arrested at Okaki”, she said.
Speaking shortly after destroying some of the impounded products, the Deputy Commandant, NSCDC, Chikere Isidore, said the suspects would be prosecuted.
“We are always in their trail and each time we intercept them, we arrest and prosecute them. You can see the suspects carried some of their products in a van of a known ministry to escape arrest. But they failed. Out men are always on the lookout”, he said.
He said some of the impounded products were burnt because they were abandoned by suspects, who ran away on sighting operatives of NSCDC.
He, however, said that other products at the command were arrested with their owners and were used as exhibits in court.