Okey Maduforo, Awka
Over 9 million litres of petroleum products are lost on daily bases to the activities of thieves in oil producing communities of Anambra state ~ Citypost Reports.
This illegal exploration of oil has been on in the last three years by two oil firms under the noses of government without recourse to the stipulated Federal Government approval.
Deepening this situation is the role of the unknown gunmen who have been obtaining huge sums of money from the companies under the guise of giving them protection though the proactive measures by the affected communities and the Anambra Ministry Of Homeland Matters has been able to dislodge several camps of the gunmen.
The affected communities of Ogwuanocha, Ogwuikpele, Umunankwo and Osamalla have been lamenting the level of environmental degradation as a result of the illegal operations by the thieves as according to them aquatic lives have been drastically affected while farm lands have also been polluted in the process.
According to a Town Union leader in the area Prince Chris Okwuosa;
“They have been there for more than three years now and they do not have the government backing to take our oil away and government appears not to be aware of this”
“Everyday over 20 trucks that carry 45,000 litres of oil products each come to Ogwuikpele and Ogwuanocha to steal our oil and they pass through Umunankwo and Osamalla and use batches to carry those products through the water ways of Ogbakuba and Ochuche to those doing bunkering and mini refineries in Oguta in Imo state”
To this end the communities have appealed to both the state and federal governments to arrest the situation and bring the culprits to book.
In what appears to be a bold step in checkmating the activities of the oil thieves, Gov Charles Soludo of Anambra has charged the Nigerian Navy and other security organizations to join forces with his government in that regard.
Governor Soludo was speaking when the recently appointed Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla paid him a courtesy visit at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.
While commending the Navy and their formidable collaborations with other security agencies, Governor Soludo revealed that there is increased need for Navy presence in the State because of the oil theft and bunkering going on at the Ogwuikpele area of the state.
“It has become existential threat in the South east, but with your strategic appointment, there is urgent need to uproot the criminals and profile them for who they are.
“We deserve to have a liveable and prosperous Anambra State”, he said.
The Governor praised the Navy and indeed, all security agencies operating in the state for the sacrifices and described their job as a calling that should be respected.
Speaking earlier, Vice Admiral Ogalla recalled that the Naval Outpost in Onitsha was established with assistance from the state government, assuring that they will redouble their efforts to do more to ensure that peace returns in the region.
He decried a situation where sit at home persists and criminal gangs parade themselves as people who dictate what happens as an aberration with the tendency of drawing the region backwards.