Published On: Fri, Mar 22nd, 2013

Navy Nabs 70 Illegal Bunkerers, Impounds 100 Drums of Refined Fuel in Warri

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THE Nigerian Navy, on Thursday, recorded a major breakthrough in its drive at stamping out all forms of criminalities as mandated by the presidency, with the arrest of about 70 illegal bunkerers and impounding over 100 drums of locally-refined oil in Warri, Delta State.
The criminals were nabbed by the Nigerian Navy Mobile Patrol Team at Trailer Park, beside Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Gbangue, Warri/Sapele Road, at 4.30 a.m, acting on a tip-off.
Nigerian Tribune, which was at the venue of the big catch on Thursday morning, gathered that the feat was at the instance of about three months surveillance and investigation, which eventually paid-off on Thursday morning, with the arrest of the criminals and seizure of the drums of fuel.

When Nigerian Tribune got to the place, security was beefed-up around NPA gate and the park by the Navy patrol team to forestall breakdown of law and order, just as shops located inside the park and around NPA gate could not operate, as the armed men had cordoned off the entire area. A witness said the trailer park was originally meant to harbour articulated trucks until oil racketeers turned the place into a hub for salacious and criminal activities.At the park, scores of plastic industrial drums, some empty, were starched with locally- refined fuel and stored in shanties made up of planks.The detached naval patrol team, Nigerian Tribune gathered, also traced the source of the products to the Sand Beach in Ugbangue, where scores of drums of locally-refined fuel were also discovered and seized.At the beach were local canoes used by the bunkerers in ferrying the products from the source. One of the canoes was half-filled with the refined fuel.
Chairman of the National Association of Trailer Owners (NATO), Mr David Uvwere, who was rounded up along other criminal suspects, admitted it was criminal, saying there was nothing his association could do to stop the bunkerers from using the place for their illegal business.According to Uvwere, who said he had about eight trucks, several complaints had been channelled to authorities concerned by his association, but all to no avail, adding that some armed men in uniform usually came around to share from the loot on a daily basis.
“The people who are doing this business usually come with escort of armed men and will say “this is Federal Government’s land. The uniform men usually come here with their van to collect money from these people. I am a truck owner,” the suspect, whose left leg had been amputated, said.
Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy, Warri, Commodore Muhammed Garba, who said he would be briefing the press after thorough investigation might have been carried out, said the Federal Government’s stance on zero tolerance to all forms of criminalities, especially illegal oil bunkering, still subsists.
Garba, who promised to destroy the products after a thorough investigation into the crime, advised unrepentant merchants of the illegal business to back out or face a more determined navy that would flush them out of their creeks.

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