- Ijaw leader accuses army of looting communities
By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, Warri, Commodore Raimi Mohammed, has given the two host communities of the 48-inch Forcados crude oil trunkline blown up by members of the Niger Delta Avengers the option of producing the militants or risk the deployment of military to the area.
Ogulagha and Odimodi communities are hosts to Forcados export terminal in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The naval boss who tasked the leaders of the two communities, said they should either produce those responsible for the destruction of the crude oil export trunkline in their domain or the military would be deployed to fish them out.
Mohammed, who visited the site of the destruction over the weekend, noted that the failure of the communities to do as demanded would require security operatives to commence a military operation in the area, a situation which he noted might be uncomfortable for innocent people of the areas.
Addressing representatives of the communities, the naval boss told them emphatically that the vandals who destroyed the critical oil export facility were either members of the communities or had contacts among them.
Based on his observation of the terrain, Mohammed said the vandals must have passed through the communities by land or by water.
The navy boss, who was briefed on arrival at the scene of the destruction by representatives of the host communities and team of engineers, however reassured that his men were ever determined to go after the militants and flush them out of the region.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the inspection, Mohammed insisted that the vandals must have passed through the communities to perpetrate the act.
“The perpetrators must have passed through their villages or they are even from the villages. So, they know every intruder or anybody that is criminal among them.
“That’s why I’m giving them time to come up with those behind this attack. The perpetrators must have come through the waters or land. They know those who pass through their communities, if not, we have to start controlling movement which I believe they will find difficult.
“I’m here basically to see the site of the attack for myself and also to remind the communities of their pledge not to allow such an incident to happen again. They promised to be extra vigilant and to give us information but they have failed in this responsibility.
“As you can see, this is a 48 inches pipeline and it’s not something that somebody can just easily cut except with a force. I believe from what I have seen it is a breach. It is sabotage. Thank God, Shell has been able to curtail the spillage,” Mohammed stated.
But the leaders of the two communities were not pleased with the two options given to them.
They said the option giving to them is tasking since they could not be made to answer for the destruction of a property they have no direct control over.
Executive Chairman of Ogulagha community, Captain Solomon Prebor, who spoke on behalf of the communities, said they cannot be held liable for the latest attack because the export line was not situated within their reach.
He also denied that the communities do not know those behind the attack of the Shell operated trunkline.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Kokokiagbene community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State has accused the soldiers currently on siege mission in the area of looting over N300 million worth of properties Gbaramatu Kingdom under the guise of searching for militants that have been bombing oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region.
According to a statement issued yesterday, Mulade also alleged that the retreating soldiers looted N60 million cash meant for the completion of the palace of the monarch of Oporoza.
“It is unpatriotic, unethical and unprofessional for the Nigeria Army who invaded Oporoza and other Ijaw communities in search of vandals and militants bombing oil and gas facilities to abandoned their primary responsibility to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous act and resort to looting of items belonging to Pere’s Palace and law abiding citizen within the community.
“It is worthy to state that the Nigeria Army looted valuable goods worth over N300,000,000 and cash of about N70,000,000 meant for the completion of the Pere’s Palace,” he alleged. Mulade therefore appealed to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt- Gen. Tukur Burutai, to probe his men and recover the looted items from the palace and other residents and return them to the law abiding citizen of Oporoza.
Reacting to the allegations, the spokesman of the 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Benin, Captain Jonah Unuakhalu, expressed surprise at the claims, wondering how the soldiers in such a very engaging operation, within the limited timeframe, could cart away properties worth N300 million on gunboats.
“I don’t believe that any such thing happened, but my own is; first I’m in Benin, not Warri, so may be I’ll have to put a call through to know what went down there. However, I just believe all these are just fictions because you said property worth N300 million. How would they have moved such?
“Let’s both look at it, how did they move it? This is a creek we are talking about and these people move in gunboats, how would they have moved properties worth N300 million? I don’t know if you are getting my simple analogy.
“I read in one of the papers that five of the people we paraded the other time are SSS 2 students, I mean, why do people just come out with stories that do not make any sense? Let’s be realistic, N300 million worth of properties? Haba!”
“They even claimed they were raping women. These are all stories coming out of their imaginations, just to give the army a bad name. They are just being funny and economical with the truth,” Unuakhalu said.