By Anderson Hart

Efforts geared towards combating and eradicating oil theft in the Niger Delta region may continue to hit the brick wall as the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) posted to Oloma community and Okoloma lodge axis of Bonny local government area of Rivers state are allegedly accused of complicity and actively involving in pipeline vandalism for the purpose of illegal bunkering and crude business in the area.

Some leaders of Oloma community and Okoloma lodge housing well Shell well 2 and well 11 in Bonny local government area of Rivers state alleged that the Joint Military Task Force, JTF are constantly engaged in incessant illegal bunkering activities around Well 11 and Well 2 in the area. They accused the JTF security operatives of colluding with some persons in the area to extract and sell stolen crude to large vessels under the supervision of security personnel deployed to the area.

Similarly fishermen are crying foul with SOS messages to the relevant authorities to intervene on this act of national sabotage. According to some aggrieved community members who spoke under anonymity, the bunkering activities are the reasons behind the catastrophic pollution of the surrounding waters which make it difficult for fishing to thrive in the area.

Regrettably bunkering activities in the area resulted in the death of two persons recently when a fire as a result of spilled crude was ignited. Community observers claim that the security operatives carry out the illegal activities with provocative impunity around well two area assuming them offender and the authority at the peoples peril.

Alali Pepple the Chief Security officer of Okolo Lodge in well two (2) is pleading with JTF to step up security and help put a stop to the bunkering menace. He urged them to make their presence felt by way of solid security rather than add to the problem as has been alleged by community members and fishermen in the area.

Organization of Fishermen, Sea food Dealers and Farmers in Niger Delta (OFSDF/ND) are also joining in the plea to government help stall the catastrophic effect of pollution resulted by incessant bunkering. According to a member of the organization, Inyemoni Hart “the lives of fishermen whose daily lives depend on fishing are seriously affected, we don't know who to run to as the earlier perpetrators and the JTF are seemingly on the same page. There is need for the relevant agencies to act as the matter can no longer be treated with levity.

JTF rising allegations of corrupt practices, complicity in cases of illegal oil bunkering and crude oil theft in the Niger delta is assuming a rather disturbing dimension in the region.