Seven suspected oil thieves have been arrested by operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Cross River State.
The corps also impounded over 200 drums of adulterated crude oil worth over N10 million.
The Commandant of Corps in the state, Mr Stephen Lar, while parading the suspects alongside the 200 impounded drums at Jebbs area in Calabar South on Wednesday, said the arrest was made through a tip-off.
Lar disclosed that the command had declared zero tolerance for illegal crude activities in the area, adding that the suspects will be prosecuted as soon as investigation is completed.
“In keeping with our core mandate of protecting Nigeria’s critical national asset, particularly the oil sector; we carried out an operation early this morning following a tip off.
“This channel is being used in carrying bunkering product into the town. We came here this morning and found the illegality of transporting adulterated petroleum product through this channel.
“We were able to recover 200 drums of adulterated crude and we arrested seven suspects in connection with this economic sabotage. Some of the suspects escaped and we are trailing them.
“This act is very dangerous. Cross River has no pipeline, but it is a route for bunkerers. When they have gone to other places to carry out this illegal activities, they use Cross River to pass through,” he said.
The commandant said that NSCDC was determined to ensure that the route is no longer used by bunkerers for illegal sabotage of the nation’s economic resources.
He further said that the act poses a serious danger to the country’s economy, and expressed dissatisfaction with individuals who create artificial refinery to refined adulterated product.
“This type of product causes a lot of damages to our vehicles and engines. We must continue to monitor this route in other to prevent all forms of illegality.
“We shall not relent in our effort in making sure that this criminality on the maritime sector is stopped. We are also working with the Nigerian Navy to ensure a safer maritime domain,” he added.
Lar warned those involved in the illegal act to desist from it, adding that the eagle eye of the command was everywhere to curb all forms of illegality along the maritime domain.
He said that after proper investigation, the suspects will be charged to court and the product will be forfeited if the command wins the case in court.
“When the product is forfeited and found to be genuine, it can be auctioned out and if found not to be genuine, we can get clearance from appropriate authority to destroy it,” he stated.