The Nigerian Navy in Calabar, Cross River State has destroyed about 1, 000 drums containing diesel and petrol worth over N100m allegedly siphoned from pipelines and stored in two warehouses in Ikang, headquarters of Bakassi Local Government Area.
One of the warehouses on the premises of Mic Akodof Nigeria Limited filing station, which is a few metres away from the temporary secretariat of the Bakassi LGA, incidentally has a checkpoint mounted by soldiers in front of it.
During the burning of the products, some Ikang youths protested, saying bunkering was their only way of surviving.
But the Commanding Officer, Nigeria Navy Ship Victory, Commodore Kingdom Itoko, who led the operation, on Friday said the Bakassi environment had become notorious for illegal bunkering, sea piracy, armed robbery and other economic sabotage.
Itoko said it was sad that some people engaged in economic sabotage, adding that having over 1,000 drums containing petrol and diesel illegally siphoned was inimical to the country’s economic development.
He added that the navy was ready to put to an end such illegal activities in compliance with the Chief of Defence Staff’s directive.
He regretted that some people were still indulging in bunkering despite the fact that Governor Liyel Imoke had on May 24, 2012, led a major operation that led to the arrest of some suspects and seizure of petroleum products.
“As the Commander of the naval base, NNS Victory, I am acting on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff that advised us to burn any illegal product discovered. Illegal bunkering in Nigeria is like piracy and other criminal activities,” he said.
Apart from a 20-year-old security man at the filing station, Aliu Isah, no other arrest was made.
Itoko, who expressed his disappointment that such an illegal operation was going on opposite an army post, said the owner of the filling station would soon be arrested.
He described the presence of the security operatives opposite the crime scene as “a clear conspiracy and connivance with security agencies and other constituted authorities.”
Itoko said his team would not rest until the place was rid of illegal activities, noting that “this is the first stage to show our level of seriousness. We will enter the sea, but the activities are done in the night but the navy under me doesn’t have the facilities to patrol the sea in the night.”
But one of the protesting youths, Etete Simeon, said, “They carried us and sold to us to Cameroon, this is the only business we have here, we are hungry, we are not happy. They should give us work.
“Cameroon gendarmes are not allowing us to fish, they maltreat us, and now government is maltreating us. The youth of this community are suffering. They have given out our oil wells.