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Oil theft: Police set for prosecution of 40 suspects

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The suspected oil thieves

By Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

The Police said 40 suspects who were recently arrested at the Ogbogoro Oil Field, Brass Area, and Ekeni Area of Southern-Ijaw in Bayelsa State, for conspiracy, tampering with oil pipeline, illegal transportation of crude oil, dealing in crude and storing same without lawful authority or appropriate license amongst others will be arraigned in court on 26 February.

The 40 suspects were intercepted in two vessels at different times by the police operatives in conjunction with the military and other relevant security agencies in active liaison on intelligence sharing and collaboration with Private Security Contractors (PSCs) engaged by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), particularly Tantita Security Services.

Force spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who announced this in a statement, said the arrest of the suspects and interception of the vessels were part of intensified efforts by the police to curb the illegal oil theft and economic sabotage in the country.

“The suspects were apprehended and subjected to investigation having established a prima facie case against them. They will be arraigned in court to face charges related to economic sabotage and oil theft which have been filed.

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“Similarly, Vessels used in the illegal activities have been seized as part of the evidence against the suspects.

“Specifically, arraignment for suspects involved in the case of one of the Vessels is scheduled for 26th February, 2024 while the motion for interim forfeiture of the Vessel and products contained therein will be heard on 19th February, 2024.

The Force spokesperson said preliminary investigations have indicted numerous individuals and companies including their foreign collaborators who will in due course be interrogated and caused to face the full wrath of the law.

“The Inspector-General of Police has therefore urged the public to be vigilant and report all suspicious activities related to oil theft and economic sabotage to the NPF, in line with its mandate as enshrined in Section 4 (d) of the Police Act 2020 empowering the Police to enforce all laws without any prejudice to the enabling Act of other security agencies.

“The IGP stressed that the Police is committed to improved synergy with all relevant stakeholders including other government security agencies towards putting an end to the illegal activities of oil theft and economic sabotage in the country and will continue to intensify its strategies and operations to curb same, while not hesitating to bring to justice any individual or group involved in such illegal activities,” Adejobi said.

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