By Samuel Bolaji
A traditional ruler and Chairman, Bayelsa Traditional Rulers Council, His Royal Majesty Bubaraye Dakolo, has alleged that the Cameroon-bound stolen crude oil-laden vessel intercepted on Escravos sea in Delta State was burnt to prevent the “real oil thieves” from being brought in for investigation.
The monarch, who spoke on Arise TV’s The Morning Show on Wednesday, faulted the burning of the vessel, calling it a waste of Nigeria’s resources.
The PUNCH had reported that security agencies, on Tuesday, set ablaze a vessel laden with 150 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil earlier intercepted on Escravos sea in Delta State.
Tantita Executive Director on Technical Operations, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, told journalists that:”The whole idea of destroying the vessel is to send a strong message to all would-be investors that this is what they are to face if they do this type of business.”
But faulting the claim, the Bayelsa monarch argued that the vessel was burnt in order to shield the oil thieves.
Dakolo said, “I can tell you for free that that vehicle (vessel) was burnt because it was cheaper to burn it than to bring in the oil thieves that (are) behind it all.
“Usually, what Nigeria has done in the last several decades is to parade a young, helpless, improperly-educated, jobless youth from the Niger Delta as the typical thief. But I argue that such a person shouldn’t be called a thief, he should be rehabilitated. He belongs to a place where you have to educate him, re-orientate him, and make him a patriotic Nigerian. He is a victim of oil thieves.”
He added that “the real thief of oil is someone who has a yacht, someone who has a golf course; it’s someone who cannot sleep a night in the Niger Delta because of mosquitoes and insecurity. It’s someone who has property in London, in Banana Island, in Abuja, in Frankfurt, in New York City. Those are the thieves.”
The monarch alleged that “everyone that is in authority knows them (the oil thieves).”
“They’re well-known. Those in authority, I can bet you, they know who does it and who does not do it. And the reason why they prefer to present the face of a young uneducated, unemployed person from the Niger Delta as a thief is to distract the world.”
He said it was economically unwise to burn the vessel.
“To put it clearly, that is about 1.6 million barrels, and that amount to around $100m which runs into billions of naira. That is the amount or value of what was inside there (the intercepted vessel).”
King Dakolo further alleged that the Nigerian authorities and security agencies were aware the loading of the crude oil, stressing that it was not possible to load such volume of crude without the knowledge of the authorities.
“That is approximately what Nigeria produces in a day – about 1.8 million barrels. It takes a while to load the whole of that volume. And, so, definitely it must have been loaded somewhere that is an authorised loading bay.
“So, the authorities of the NNPC were supposed to know, and I think they know. And, then, of course, usually in all of those places there are law enforcement (agents) at the terminal. So, definitely all of these agencies knew that this was taking place,” he said.