Bunkering: Agency Arrests 9 Suspects, Confiscates Goods Worth Millions Of Naira
By Uche Nwosu, Umuahia
As the scarcity of premium motor spirit (PMS), fuel continues to bite hard in Abia State, the National Task Force (NATFORCE) which is recognized by law to checkmate illegal importation of arms and ammunitions as well as curb bunkering in the country has arrested no less than nine persons for adulterating fuel and kerosene products in the Aba axis of the state.
Displaying the seized petroleum products to newsmen in Aba on Thursday, the State Director of NATFORCE, Mr Silas Ihemeremadu disclosed that the products which were found on them were also confiscated, adding that suspects were handed over to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
He declared that the organization achieved the feat when it raided the hideouts of the suspected adulterators at Ekeakpara in Osisioma LGA and some parts of Ugwuanagbo, saying that the raid was carried out following a tip off by some patriotic Nigerians.
Ihemeremadu further revealed that his men recently intercepted eight trailers carrying bans goods across the boundaries Abia State and that an unspecified number of trucks conveying petroleum products suspected to have bunkered were also intercepted,
He regretted that some security agents were in the habit of aiding some bunkering suspects; as he disclosed some of the suspects intercepted by his men were aided to escape by the police and army. He therefore warned security agencies to stop interfering with the duties of NATFORCE.
According to him, the NATFORCE is saddled with the responsibilities of checkmating illegal importation of arms and ammunitions, smuggling, as well as the destruction of oil pipelines, saying that the organization has during the past two weeks reduced the rate of smuggling and importation of illegal weapons in Abia State.
The organization, he maintained has not taken over the duties of the Customs and Excise, DSS or the police, but compliments with these agencies. The NATFORCE boss lamented that despite their good role to checkmate crimes and criminalities, some of security agencies still see the organization as an worrying opponent.
He revealed that six of his men were recently detained in the course of discharging their duties, adding that it was only when he signed a bail bond that they were released by the police. “There’s a cabal operating in this state; this cabal has been conniving with smugglers in the state to flood the state with banned goods”, he observed.
Mr Ihemeremadu however, solicited the support of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state to enable the organization function without hiccups; even as he pledged to make the state a crime-free state. He equally pleaded for the provision of patrol vehicle to enable the operations of the task force in Abia state go smoothly.
He used the opportunity to announce that the NATFORCE Abia State unit will soon employ 5,100 Abia indigenes from 17 LGAs of the state, stressing that the huge job haul will position the organization to properly perform its assigned roles.