• en

‘Big Players’ In Lagos, Abuja Responsible For Niger Delta Oil Theft, Says Seriake Dickson

You must be well entrenched and part of the topmost governmental systems to carry out illegal bunkering, says Seriake Dickson.

Former Governor of Bayelsa State Seriake Dickson has said that influential figures who he referred to as “big players” in Lagos and Abuja play significant roles in oil-related theft in the Niger Delta.

He said this during an interview with ARISE NEWS on Tuesday when asked about a previous statement seemingly accusing people from the southwest and Abuja for the oil theft in the Niger Delta.

Disckson clarified that his previous statement did not accuse individuals from the Southwest as a whole, but referred to influential figures in major Nigerian cities, particularly Lagos and Abuja.

He remarked, “What I said in context is not that people from the southwestern parts in Lagos and Abuja are doing it. That’s not what I said. I didn’t say southwest. I said big players in the big cities of Nigeria, specifically Lagos and Abuja, because you must be big, you must be well entrenched, you must be part of the various systems, the security systems, the oil system and the topmost governmental systems to be able to carry out illegal bunkering.

“It is the big players conniving with their foreign partners, with their friends and business allies, compromising the security establishments. They are strong enough to compromise and infiltrate and maintain a grip on the oil industry at the topmost levels, at the tactical operational levels. We know that people who are big players are doing this and they found a very convenient camouflage in the few young men that are apprehended and the rickety facilities that are displayed across the Niger Delta states and in the forests.

“What you see young people do in the forests of the NIger Delta is a negligible part of the illegal bunkering and the pilfering, the stealing of Nigerian crude that has been going on for long and that is taking place at different points, at the terminals, meaning that you’ve got to be big players, big enough to pay dollars to hire vessels that will come. Sometimes a mother vessel waiting outside for days and weeks, if not months. Then you have to be influential enough to infiltrate and compromise the national security architecture to be able to do that.

He asserted that there’s a correlation between illegal oil activities, drug abuse, weapon proliferation and cultism in the Niger Delta.

“I am not surprised that there is a connection between illegal oil activity, drug abuse, illegal proliferation of live weapons, communal crisis and cultism. All of these are interwoven in the security matrix of the Niger Delta. What happens is that young people are somehow lured to be part of this by whoever are the brains behind it and you must secure territory. To secure territory, you need a large number of young people, able-bodied men. And to be able to deter others, they need to be armed. For them to be ferocious enough, they need to be on drugs. And for you to maintain total control of their loyalty, there has to be a cult-like relationship. So, if there is that observation by the chief of defense staff, I don’t doubt it.”

With regards to whether the services of Tantita have contributed to stopping or reducing incidents of oil bunkering in the Niger Delta, he threw his support behind Tantita’s efforts, acknowledging the intricate Niger Delta terrain and the advantage of the knowledge of Tompolo in navigating it.

“Tantita knows the terrain. There’s no one who knows the terrain more than Tompolo who is behind Tantita and I support that. We all support that because this is something that the formal security people can not do because the Niger Delta is a very complex terrain. We are talking of a complex mesh of interconnecting rivers, creeks, rivulets and so on, in a dense mangrove environment. It is a very difficult terrain. I see the wisdom behind the engagement of people who know the terrain, who are players in the local maritime area to at least navigate it, connecting properly with the established security forces. I support what is going on.

“On whether Tantita should be providing any services at all, you need local knowledge to be able to guide and work with the security agency. It doesn’t really indicate a collapse or failure of that national security architecture.”

He also urge for collective action to urge the international community to label stolen Nigerian crude as “blood crude,” aligning with the president’s initiative.

“All of us should join the president to call on the international community to brand the stolen crude from Nigeria as blood crude.”

Melissa Enoch

Follow us on: