Suspected oil thief drowns as police arrest one in A’ Ibom

By Isaac Job

The remains of a suspected oil thief known for vandalizing oil pipelines supplying gas to the Ibom Power plant at Ikot Abasi local government area of Akwa Ibom state has been recovered floating on the creek of Qua Iboe River in Eket council area of the state The Trumpet has gathered.

Our Correspondent gathered that many of the suspects dived into the river to evade arrest by Marine Police operatives who raided the Creeks on a tip-off by the local residents of Ikot Ebidang community in Onna, where the pipelines are located, “but unfortunately, one of them drowned, while others escaped”.

Speaking to newsmen in Uyo on Tuesday, Dr. Ufot Phenson, a community leader and stakeholder, explained that “the corpse was recovered after three days on the Creek of Qua Iboe River, in the adjoining oil community of Eket LGA.”

One of the suspects, a notorious cultist, identified as Mbet-obong Robson, from the community, alleged to be the chief coordinator of other vandals from Bayelsa and other Niger Delta states, Phenson said, was arrested with items such as Flying boat, life jacket, oxygen cylinder, iron cutter, hacksaw, generator, motorcycle and helmet, with which they used in destroying the pipelines.

He said: “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 pipelines, which almost ignited 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.

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“The matter was, thereafter, reported at the Divisional Police station at Abat, headquarters of Onna. Our concerns and fears are that, if 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 kilometres would have been gutted by fire with attendant loss of lives, properties and oil installations.

“The gas pipelines are owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria and was laid across the area by Seven Exploration and Production Company in 2012 to supply gas to the Ibom Power plant at Ikot Abasi LGA.”

He, therefore, charged the regular Police to follow through the feat achieved by their Marine counterpart in diligent prosecution of the suspect “to serve as a deterrent to others, even as he indulged the youths’ vigilantes to be in the vanguard of securing oil pipelines in the coastal communities.

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