A yet-to-be identified corpse suspected to be one of the oil thieves specialising in vandalizing oil pipelines supplying gas to the Ibom Power Plant at Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom, has been recovered by ocean divers in Qua Iboe River in Eket Local Government Area.
A statement by a community leader and stakeholder in the area, Rex Uko, explained that the corpse was recovered after three days on the creek of Qua Iboe River, in the adjoining oil community of Eket.
The dead body was found floating on the river when marine police raided the creeks following information of vandalisation of the pipelines.
It was gathered that many of the suspects jumped into the river to evade arrest by the marine police operatives, “but unfortunately, one of them drowned, while others escaped.”
According to the statement, one of the suspects, a cultist, identified as Mbet-Obong Robson, alleged to be the chief coordinator of other vandals from Bayelsa and other Niger Delta States, Uko said, was arrested with items such as flying boat, life jacket, oxygen cylinder, iron cutter, hacksaw, generator, motorcycle and helmet, with which they used in destroying the pipelines.
He said, “The marine police operatives stationed at the Marina Beach, Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom have apprehended one Mbet-obong Robson, a member of a gang of oil pipeline vandals and recovered items such as flying boat, hacksaw, generator, motorcycle, life jacket, oxygen cylinder, iron cutter and others.
“These items were used in breaking the pipelines, which almost ignited fire with thick smoke released into the atmosphere. During the process of raiding by the police, other members of the gang escaped into the thick swamp, while others jumped into the Qua Iboe River and escaped.
“The matter was, thereafter, reported at the Divisional Police Station at Abat, headquarters of Onna. Our concerns and fears are that, if the matter of this magnitude is not properly dealt with by the law enforcement agents, their sponsors, who claimed to be the who is who, claiming ownership of the community, could bribe the police to release the principal suspect to continue in the trade, which is an economic sabotage to the nation.
“If not for the timely intervention of the marine police, a vast area of about 6.5 kilometres would have been gutted by fire with loss of lives, properties and oil installations.
“The gas pipelines are owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria and was laid across the area by Seven Exploration and Production Company in 2012, to supply gas to the Ibom Power Plant at Ikot Abasi Local Government Area.”
He, therefore, charged the regular police to follow through the feat achieved by their marine counterpart in diligent prosecution of the suspect, to serve as a warning to others, even as he enjoined the youth to be in the vanguard of securing oil pipelines in the coastal communities.