Crude Oil Theft: Tension in Bayelsa Communities as Gunmen Issue Traditional Rulers Death Threats

Olusegun Samuel

There is Palpable tension and fear in Bayelsa communities of Igbomotoru, Oyeregbeni and Peremabiri in Southern Ijaw local government area as gunmen working with crude oil thieves have continued their brutal attacks on communities who refused to play ball with them.

With no security cover for them by the allegedly compromised men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) the communities are daily at the mercy of these gunmen with rising cases of attacks and forceful takeover of traditional institutions by some gunmen allegedly led by a militia identified as ‘General’ Endurance Amagbin over the control of illegal theft of crude oil in the area.

It was gathered that the militia groups have been recruiting youths for illegal crude theft operations in the communities, while they subjected traditional rulers of Igbemotoru and other communities such as Lasukugbene, Beberegbene, Peremabiri to oath of allegiance or they either get dethroned or killed.

THISDAY gathered that the affected communities are hosts to multi-million dollars Trunk 18 inches diameter crude oil Tebidaba/Igbomotoru/Brass pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Limited.

It was equally gathered that many security personnel deployed to the area have allegedly been comprised by the operations of this General and his boys.

Sources said he has already commenced the illegal refining or cooking of crude oil known as “kpo fire” in the area.

It was gathered that as a result of the rising tension, the paramount ruler of Igbomotoru (West Bomo) Community of Southern Ijaw Local Government Council, HRH Asemighen Ayibaikie Ofongo, BUO X, has sent a petition sent to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, to come to the rescue of the Bayelsa communities.

In the letter made available to newsmen in Yenagoa, the traditional ruler lamented that the militia groups have continued to molest, beat up, vandalise houses and loot properties of those who go against their illegal activities in the area.

Ofongo, in the letter with reference number IGBO/Security/10102/Vol.1/32/22, pointed out that he was also a victim of the wrath of the gunmen with their leader and self-styled ‘General’ subjecting him to personal oath of allegiance to their operations and also announcing his dethronement on a state radio without the approval of the state government.

The petition read: “The youths and elders of Igbemotoru community have become refugees in their community. The people of the community and surrounding communities have not had any positive change since the self-styled General Endurance arrived.

“And he has also boasted that he has connection to the top and that petitions sent out are sent back to him promising anyone writing such petition to be ready to accept any consequences of their actions. This has emboldened him to recruit jobless youths into his army in other to vandalise houses, loot properties therein.”

The worried Monarch, recounted that on 11th of December, 2021, Amagbin, “ordered his squad to bring him at gun point,” “Ammanawei was escorted under gunpoint by six gunmen into a waiting horsepower speed boat to a bush and into a shrine. I was ordered by the militia leader to take oath of allegiance to him.

“When I protested and insisted I have earlier before my ancestors and even God sworn to be impartial in the discharge of my duties, he ordered his gunmen to fire several rounds of bullets above my head as a warning.

“I realised I could be shot dead in the shrine, so I succumbed to save my life and took the oath. Again, on the 12th of December, 2021, the Igbomotoru 1 community chiefs under the directive of the militia leader convened a meeting of all people of the town.

“The meeting has no other agenda besides the dethronement of the Amananawei. Some persons who attended the meeting queried the veracity of such dethronement exercise. While many walked out of the meeting and the meeting ended on that note. Within days, a special announcement was sponsored by the militia leader and his boys of the dethronement on two radio stations in the state capital.

“The state government reacted spontaneously and denounced the dethronement as an exercise in futility and of no effect whatsoever. The paramount ruler as well went on air and denounced the purported dethronement.

“As it is now, myself and some others who are against the notorious activities of Endurance Amagbin in Igbomortoru community are not allowed access to our own community.

“We are calling on the government to convene a peace meeting and in synergy with the federal government to please mop up all illegal arms and ammunition in the possession of non-state actors like the militia group now terrorising the innocent people of Igbomotoru community.”

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