Rivers State’s Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, has implicated soldiers from the Nigerian Army in illicit oil thefts.
The revelation was made to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Taoreed Lagbaja, during his recent visit to the gubernatorial residence, the Government House, in Port Harcourt on Friday.
Fubara contends that his state’s military personnel, in their bid to conceal these unlawful oil extractions, have allied with certain oil establishments, creating hindrances for the ongoing infrastructure development in the Ogba/Egbema Ndoni district by targeting the workers carrying out the project.
Fubara conveyed to the COAS that his administration’s endeavors to eradicate oil smuggling are being thwarted due to this alleged collusion, particularly in the Ahoada East and Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni regions.
The governor, therefore, emphasized the necessity of a unified effort to address and reprimand those officers allegedly sabotaging his state’s campaign to squash oil thefts.
He stated, “One distinct challenge that we face here is unlawful oil smuggling. In certain areas, like Ahoada East and Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni, persistent smuggling activities, we believe, are due to a partnership between the military and prominent oil firms.”
“Evidence of this lies in the construction project currently underway in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni. Each time our contractor solicits the concerned company for continuation of work, military interference occurs, deterring our contractor,” Fubara concluded.
Governor Fubara delved into details of his attempts to rectify the situation, asserting that the officers’ alleged vested interest in the illegal business has prevented resolution so far. Hence, he urged the army superior to regulate his subordinates’ actions.
“Employment in a firm doesn’t empower anyone to manipulate the state’s affairs. Delve into the issue,” urged the governor.
Lieutenant General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, the Chief of Army Staff, stated that he was in Port Harcourt as a routine protocol to oversee his command’s operations and units post his inauguration.
The Army Chief expressed his gratitude for the ongoing backing, assistance, and collaboration provided by Fubara to the military in ensuring peace and stability within the state.