As the spate of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta continues, some ex-militants belonging to the camp of Keithy Sese, alias Nomukeme, have accused the Joint Task Force (JTF) of collaborating with crude oil thieves in the region.
The disclosure is on the heels of assertion from the military that crude oil theft has declined in the region but still of concern to the Federal Government and oil producing states.
JTF spokesman, Onyeama Nwachukwu, described the statement as a campaign of calumny, stressing that “this falsehood and distractions cannot stop the JTF from carrying out its mandate”.
Bayelsa State government and the Nigerian Navy had a week ago agreed to partner to reduce the incidence of pipeline vandalism and theft of crude oil as well as illegal refining of crude oil.
The ex-militants in a statement signed by Ifalibabou, Ikpokutanyo and Korobiri and made available to BusinessDay in Yenagoa on Sunday said they were constrained to make the disclosure due to the harassment from the JTF.
According to the statement, the latest of such incidents was the beating up of Nomukeme by men of the JTF in collaboration with oil thieves in Foropa, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
“We are constrained to bring to the notice of the Federal Government how the JTF stationed at Foropa Town, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in collaboration with oil thieves beat up Keithy Sese, aka Nomukeme.
They said the April 4, 2013 incident occurred after Nomukeme who went home on April 1 allegedly reported the presence of an oil bunkering vessel, Paibo 2, laden with crude oil parked in the creeks awaiting repairs.
He had alerted the Central Naval Command and the JTF about the vessel which led to the arrest of some suspected crude oil thieves stealing crude oil from the abandoned Middleton platform of Chevron.
However, they alleged that the same men of the JTF connived with the oil thieves to beat up Nomukeme who was arrested with five others and brought to the Sector Two Command in Yenagoa where he has been detained since Thursday, the ex-militants stated.
SAMUEL ESE, Yenagoa