Suspects Are Released, Caught Again And Released: We Need Special Courts — JTF

Mar. 30, 2014

The Joint Task Force (JTF), charged with the protection of oil installations and preventing oil theft in the Niger Delta, has called for the establishment of special courts to ensure speedy trial of suspects.

Spokesman of the task force, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Yenagoa, noted that the slow dispensation of justice had been undermining their efforts.

He said that the military outfit lacked the powers to prosecute, adding that their responsibility was to apprehend suspects and hand them over to other relevant bodies for prosecution.

Nwachukwu said that many apprehended suspects who were granted bail in the past, often returned to the nefarious act, pointing out that the trend was very disturbing.

He said that many of such suspects often got re-arrested by JTF troops for the same crime, noting that they had become familiar with the legal loopholes.

He said that the establishment of special courts would ensure quick prosecution of the cases and penalties slammed on convicts, to serve as deterrent to others

Nwachukwu said that the vandals were desperate and highly organized, and would go to any length to perpetrate their act.

The spokesman said the level of desperateness was such that a suspect once attempted to bribe an official of the task force with N20 million on March 21.

“The oil theft syndicate offered the Operation Officer of JTF’s 3 Battalion, an initial payment of $5,000 for ‘recharge card’ and $1,500 to fuel the gunboat that will escort the stolen crude.

“Two British nationals subsequently requested a meeting with the Brigade Commander of 4 Brigade.

“At the meeting, the suspects expressed their desire to connect a hose to the SPDC’s pipeline along the Chanomi Creek in Delta State, to illegally siphon crude oil into their barges.

“The foreign nationals promised to bribe the brigade commander, Brig-Gen. Fidelis Azinta, with N20 million and take care of officers and soldiers along the Chanomi creek.

“On March 21, 2014, one of the suspects brought $60,000 (N10.2 million) as part payment for the N20 million offer, and was immediately arrested,” Nwachukwu narrated.

He appealed to relevant agencies of government to assist JTF in curbing the menace of oil theft. (NAN)