Vigilant people of Biseni in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have resisted attempts by men of the Nigerian Army to free five tankers conveying substance believed to be stolen crude oil.
It was learnt that the oil-producing community comprising men, women and youths, arrested the five tankers on April 25 and deflated their tyres following the discovery that they were loaded with crude reportedly siphoned from oil wells in the bushes around them.
Some soldiers who were allegedly part of the oil theft tried to intimidate the people but they refused to cave in, and this prompted the soldiers to mobilise more armed soldiers to the community on Friday, April 29 in order to forcefully move the tankers away, according to Saturday INDEPENDENT.
The military personnel’s action resulted in tension as the community people remained adamant and blocked the access road to prevent them from ‘rescuing’ the tankers.
A chief of Biseni community, Justus Bekesu, who confirmed the incident, said on Friday that the people became suspicious of crude oil theft when they saw the five tankers driving out of their bush.
He said, “Last week Sunday, 25 April, 2021, we saw tankers coming out of Biseni forest where both SPDC and Agip drill crude oil from. Suspecting foul play, our youths stopped them and asked what was contained in the tankers.
“They (occupants of the tankers) said the tankers contained water mixed with chemical. They claimed that to avoid disposing it at the site that may damage the environment, they were taking it to a safe place for proper disposal. But our youths insisted that they wanted to confirm if what they were saying was true.
“To our greatest surprise, when they checked, the first tanker was conveying water while the rest were filled with crude oil. And when the soldiers were confronted with the facts, they claimed that they didn’t know that the other tankers were carrying fuel. After much argument, they left.
“Only for us to wake up this morning to see over 30 armed soldiers in our community. They even came with tyre pumping machine to put air in the tyres of the tankers our youths had deflated with the intention to move them away by force.
“That was when our youths and women came out and blocked the road preventing to from leaving by any means. It was so terrible that schools were even shutdown to safeguard our children from any eventuality. At the end they failed and have left but we still fear for a reprisal attack from the military and whoever sent them.”
Reacting to the incident, the Head of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Bayelsa State Office, Alagoa Morris, applauded the Biseni people for their watchfulness and urged the state and federal governments to probe the incident.
He said, “The soldiers should be held accountable for any injuries or loss of life and destruction of property as a direct result of this situation. Already, I have made contacts with the authorities in Bayelsa State. The state government should stand by and with the good people of Biseni at these trying times. Kudos to the Biseni people!
“We take this as confirmation that some military personnel are aiding the crime of bunkering in the Niger Delta and, this is highly unacceptable. The Bayelsa State Government and the Federal Government should investigate this matter to logical conclusion and deal with the issue accordingly.
“The good people of Biseni should be commended for exhibiting this rare act of bravery and patriotism. The act of those responsible for this attempt at stealing crude oil in five giant tankers should be condemned in its entirety.”