A suspected oil thief has reportedly died in the Qua Iboe River, Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, while fleeing from marine policemen; his remains were recovered after three days at the creek.
The deceased, whose name could not be ascertained, was said to have jumped into the river with other suspects(at large) to evade arrest by the officers who had already apprehended one of the gang members during a raid in the creek last week.
It was gathered that the police, who acted on intelligence from members of the community, met the suspects about vandalizing the gas pipeline, which supplies gas to the Ibom Power Plant at Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of the state.
Addressing journalists in Uyo, the state capital, over the weekend, Rev Rex Akpan Uko, a community leader in Ikot Ebidang community in Onna LGA, where the pipelines are located, called on the police at the zone to ensure that the matter is discreetly investigated and those behind pipeline vandalism in the area brought to book.
Explaining the dangers and negative effects of pipeline vandalism on the community, Rev Uko urged the youth vigilantes to ensure that oil pipelines are secured even as he recalled the negative impact caused by the vandalization of the multi-billion naira Ibom Rice Farm and encouraged the marine police not to relent in tackling oil thieves.
He wondered what could have happened if not for the timely intervention of the marine police operatives, saying that over 6.5 kilometers of land would have been gutted by fire with its attendant loss of lives and property, which according to him, can never be quantified.
Uko disclosed that the items recovered from the suspect apprehended were: a flying boat, life jacket, oxygen cylinder, iron cutter, hacksaw, generator, motorcycle, and helmet, which they used in destroying the pipelines.
The statement in part: “The Marine Police operatives stationed at the Marina Beach, Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state have apprehended one Mbet-Obong Robson, a member of a gang of oil pipeline vandals and recovered items such as Flying boat, hacksaw, generator, motorcycle, life jacket, oxygen cylinder, iron cutter, and others.
These items were used in breaking the pipelines, which almost ignited a fire with thick smoke released into the atmosphere. During the process of raiding by the Police, other members of the gang escaped into the thick swamp, while others jumped into the Qua Iboe River and escaped.
The matter was, thereafter, reported at the Divisional Police station at Abat, headquarters of Onna. Our concerns and fears are that if a matter of this magnitude is not properly dealt with by the law enforcement agents, their sponsors, who claimed to be the who is who, claiming ownership of the community could bribe the Police to release the principal suspect to continue in the trade, which is economic sabotage to the nation.
If not for the timely intervention of the Marine Police, a vast area of about 6.5 kilometers would have been gutted by fire with attendant loss of lives, and properties.
The gas pipelines are owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria and were laid across the area by Seven Exploration and Production Company in 2012 to supply gas to the Ibom Power Plant at Ikot Abasi LGA.”
Follow us for more breaking news and videos. Contact us on Whatsapp at +2348030980314