A statement made by His Royal Majesty Bubaraye Dakolo, a traditional ruler and Chairman of the Bayelsa Traditional Rulers Council, suggests that the vessel carrying stolen crude oil bound for Cameroon, which was intercepted on the Escravos sea in Delta State, was intentionally burnt to prevent the investigation of the “real oil thieves.”
During an interview on Arise TV’s The Morning Show, the monarch criticized the decision to burn the vessel, considering it a wasteful utilization of Nigeria’s resources.
Earlier reports from The PUNCH mentioned that security agencies had set fire to the vessel, which was loaded with 150 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil and had been intercepted on the Escravos sea in Delta State.
Captain Warredi Enisuoh, the Executive Director on Technical Operations at Tantita, informed journalists that the purpose behind destroying the vessel was to send a strong message to potential investors, indicating the consequences they would face if engaged in such illicit activities.
Disputing the assertion, the traditional ruler from Bayelsa contended that the burning of the vessel was carried out to protect the identity of 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).”
“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.