Former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Solomon Alamieyesiegha, yesterday, told members of the National Conference Committee on Public Finance that the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo shielded oil thieves, adding that government officials shield those involved.
He said that during his administration as governor of the state, he facilitated the arrest of some oil thieves in Bayelsa State, but because of conspiracy in high quarters and the connivance of NNPC officials, the suspects were left off the hook.
He said; “I had an experience. Tankers were loaded in Bayelsa and I got the information, laid ambush for them and arrested them. About 14 big tankers were handed over to the police. They were charged to court and the judge ordered that the product should be tested to confirm if they contained crude oil. The NNPC was invited, they came, took the sample and after a week, the result came out as agro chemical and before I know it, all of them have been released.
“I went to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I accused him that those that were involved were also sitting in the arena and that if he pushed me beyond that, I was going to mention names. It became so hot that I was persuaded to follow him to his office. He held my hand and we entered. So there is actually enough intelligence that is open to the presidency. He himself (President Obasanjo), started mentioning names.”
Alamieseigha also declared that expatriates in the oil sector are deeply involved in the illegal activities in the industry and even collaborated with militants to kidnap each other in the heydays of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “In fact expatriates are more involved in the crime than Nigerians. Some of them even offer themselves to be kidnapped so that when there is compensation, they have a share of it. They are also involved in kidnapping. They allow themselves to be kidnapped. Oil companies are invited, their home countries will shout that their men are kidnapped; management of oil companies will now make efforts and pay ransom. When the ransom is paid, they are released and that money is shared among them. So, it is a high level conspiracy that is going on”.
The former governor also accused retired naval officers of being involved in oil theft and stressed that the local boys that are regularly arrested for oil theft were mere, “escorts” as they do not have the international connections to sell stolen crude oil.
“The so-called militants we celebrate that tap oil, are only employed as escorts. If there is no buyer, we will not find a seller. The post retirement job of a senior naval officer is bunkering. None of those boys you see in the Niger Delta have the necessary connections to bring ships to our economic zone to lift. Those that are making the connections are also part of us.”
Apart from the expatriates, Alamieyeseigha, who stated that 50 percent of Nigerian oil is stolen daily, also accused foreign embassies of being aware of the illegal purchase of crude oil from Nigeria.
He said: “In fact, almost 50 percent of what we produce in this country is being siphoned outside to augment the international market. And where is the oil going? It is going to those countries and they know the type of oil that is coming out from Nigeria. It is different from others. The sulphur content here is very low and they know this but everybody is gaining from it.
“Let the federal government send warning letters to all the embassies that are in this country and give them three months. After three months, if we see any ship that is not authorized in our economic zone, especially in the Niger Delta, it will destroyed. Involve the navy, buy few assault helicopters, buy missiles and after the three months, any ship you see inside there by the time you destroy one, no country will allow her ship to enter and so, there will be no buyer.”