By Olayemi Esan
Since the flagged off Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO (OPDB) on 1st of April 2022, which means “Stop the Thief” in Hausa language, at the FOT Jetty Onne, Rivers State, oil thieves were denied the sum of Seventy One Billion Five Hundred and Forty Three Million Six Hundred and Ninety Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Three Naira Thirty Eight Kobo (N71,543,697,373.38) only, about 131 suspects arrested, while 519 Illegal Refining Sites (IRS) and 4,261 storage tanks have been deactivated, with 560 wooden boats and 69 vehicles demobilised.
Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO (OPDB) aimed at further checkmating the activities of illegal refinery operators, crude oil thieves and other criminals in the Niger Delta region, recorded massive successes which forced Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, a former militant leader who in 2004 created the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), a militant group that once engaged in oil ‘bunkering’ and other illegal forms of local resource extraction, funded in large part by local and regional politicians who sought great profits from the region’s oil revenue made unfounded allegations against the military, linked oil bunkering in the Niger Delta to top Army, military and Navy officials.
What could make an ex-militant alleged the Nigerian military of oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region despite success recorded?
Who is Dokubo-Asari?
Asari-Dokubo formerly Melford Dokubo Goodhead Jr. and typically referred to simply as Asari, was president of the Ijaw Youth Council for a time beginning in 2001 and later founded the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force which became one of the armed groups operating in the Niger Delta region. He is a Muslim with populist views and an anti-government stance that have made him a folk hero amongst certain members of the local population.
Asari-Dokubo created a militant group, the NDPVF, a militant group that escalated an armed conflict with a rival group, known as the Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV), who were also seeking to control the Delta’s oil resources. Combat was concentrated primarily in Warri and subsequently, Nigeria’s oil capital Port Harcourt, as well as areas to the city’s southwest. Both groups engaged in oil ‘bunkering’ and other illegal forms of local resource extraction.
Before now, NNPC reports show that Nigeria was losing, on the average, over 700,000 bpd, 21 million barrels per month and up to $1.9 billion every 30 days. The successes recorded in the nation’s oil and gas industry is essentially as a result of the improved security situation in the Niger Delta region, orchestrated by the Nigerian Navy through Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO in collaboration with other security agencies and stakeholders.
Some well meaning Nigerians and non-governmental organizations like the Olowu of Owu, Unity Advocacy Group, (UAG), and a media aide to the 2023 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, James Bwala condemned Dokubo’s unpatriotic comments against the military.
On his part, the Olowu of Kuta, HRH Oba Adekunle Oyelude Makama, Tegbosun III, cautioned Dokubo against demoralizing the military with unfounded accusations of involvement in oil theft. James Bwala, in his recent tweet accused Dokubo of making outlandish and troubling claims over oil theft in the Niger Delta region, he even criticized him over his visit to President Bola Tinubu, and thrashed Dokubo’s claims, describing them as troubling while Unity Advocacy Group, (UAG) condemned Dokubo of being economical with the truth.
A Quick Review:
In April this year, a review of Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO in the past one year revealed that approximately 730,123.25 barrels of crude oil, worth $70,799,743.82 (N32,619,371,216.69); 44,768,513 litres of illegally refined AGO worth N36,759,847,540.02; 290,355.07 litres of PMS worth N53,747,304.05 and 2,460,700 litres of DPK worth N1,993,167,000. Cumulatively the sum of Seventy One Billion Five Hundred and Forty Three Million Six Hundred and Ninety Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Three Naira Thirty Eight Kobo (N71,543,697,373.38) only that could have been used to perpetrate acts inimical to national security and prosperity was denied oil thieves.
CRUDE = @$97 per bbl, with CBN rate of N460 to 1$
AGO = @N820 per ltr
DPK = @N810 per ltr
PMS = @N185 per ltr
PMS = @N537 per ltr as at 2nd June 2023
Taking it from 2022, the flagged off exercise, OPDDB have denied oil thieves and criminals of about N200 million and $700,000 worth of products within a period of roughly first 2 weeks in April.
5 – 14 April 2022, These arrests and seizures from the ongoing OPDDB have denied oil thieves and criminals of about N200 million and $700,000 worth of products within a period of roughly 2 weeks.
15 _ 23 April 2022, Succinctly, Week 3 of OPDDB saw the seizure of over 6,000,000 litres of products valued over N 3 Billion from oil thieves and economic saboteurs. The migration by operators of IRS from the South South geopolitical zone to the South East also come to the fore.
23- 30 April 2022, Week 4 of OPDDB witnessed the recovery of over 2,178,500 litres (13,703 barrels) of stolen crude oil, about 787,500,000 litres of AGO and 20,000 litres of Kerosene all valued above N1.7 billion. Pertinently, with respect to previous seizures and recoveries during OPDDB for the month of April 2022, the Nigerian Navy denied oil thieves and economic saboteurs an estimated Ten Billion Seven Hundred and One Million Seven Hundred and Ninety-Three Thousand Fifty-Two Naira Five Kobo (N10,701,793,052.5k) worth of crude oil and related products for the period under review.
1- 14 May 2022, Weeks 5 and 6 of OPDDB witnessed seizures and arrests of over 6 million litres of products and stolen crude oil including more than 20 suspects many of whom have been handed over for prosecution. The period under review also brought to fore the resort to armed resistance by the economic saboteurs and criminals particularly at Okarki, a border community between Rivers and Bayelsa States
13 – 19 June 2022 TOTAL VALUE OF PRODUCTS DENIED OIL THIEVES = N2,789,025,343.36 Two Billion, Seven Hundred Eighty Nine Million, Twenty Five Thousand, Three Hundred and Forty Three Naira Thirty Six Kobo only.
20 – 30 June 2022 Total Approximated Value of Products Denied Oil Thieves from 20 – 30 June 2022 is Two Billion Two Hundred and Fifty Five Million Nine Hundred and Seventy Nine Thousand Six Hundred and Thirty Five Naira Six Kobo (N2,255,979,635.6) Only.
1 to 14 July, a Total Approximated Value of Products Denied Oil Thieves from 1 – 14 July 2022 is One Billion, One Hundred and Fifty Nine Million, Six Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy Six Naira Four Kobo (N1,159,694,676.4) Only.
1 Aug 21 Aug 2022, a total of 17 IRS, 143 metal storage tanks, 11 wooden boats, 2 speed boats, 111 dugout pits, 115 ovens and one tanker were appropriately handled during the period under review. Additionally, about 1,278,000 litres of crude oil, 1,450,800 litres of AGO and 14,575 litres of PMS were denied oil thieves. Total Approximated Value of Products Denied Oil Thieves from 1 – 21 August 2022 is One Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety Thousand, Two Hundred and Sixty Two Naira Forty Kobo (N1,401,890,262.40) Only.
12 Sept – 18 Sept 2022, Total Approximated Value of Products Denied Oil Thieves Four Hundred and Twenty One Million, Nine Hundred Twenty Five Thousand, Eight Hundred Twenty Seven Naira Ninety Seven Kobo (N421,925,827.97 only. Oil thieves were denied about 952,000 litres of crude oil and 350,500 litres of illegally refined AGO.
26 Sept to 3rd Oct 2022, oil thieves were denied about 16,616.35 bbls (2,641,999 litres) of crude oil and 608,000 litres of illegally refined AGO, amounting to One Billion, Sixty Million, Five Hundred and Forty Five Thousand Six Hundred and Seventy Two Naira, Forty Two Kobo (N1,060,545,672.42) only. And total Approximated Value of Products Denied Oil Thieves from April – October 2022 is Thirty Two Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty Eight Million, Four Hundred and Eight Thousand, Two Hundred and Fourteen Naira, Forty Five Kobo (N32,368,408,214.45) only
In May, 2 – 14 May, 2023, cumulatively the sum of Seventy One Billion Five Hundred and Forty Three Million Six Hundred and Ninety Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Three Naira Thirty Eight Kobo (N71,543,697,373.38) only that could have been used to perpetrate acts inimical to national security and prosperity was denied oil thieves.
Asari Dokubo could have gone ahead and lobby for political patronage without raising unfounded allegations against the military who had with other security agencies launched onslaught against oil thieves which has led to increased oil production of 1.7m bpd which according to NNPC is a step further from the 900,000 bpd obtained in July 2022.
The Nigerian Army through its spokesperson, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said, army has been vigorously engaged in the fight against illegal oil bunkering, oil theft, illegal oil refining and other sundry crimes in the Niger Delta and this has yielded positive results as evident in the increase in daily oil production per barrel from an abysmally dwindling output in the past. The Nigerian Army has zero tolerance for any compromise on the part of our troops and will not condone such acts of economic sabotage. No black sheep will be spared if identified.
Also the Nigerian Navy’s spokesperson Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan said oil thieves were angry because the land, maritime and air component of the Joint Task Force Operation DELTA SAFE as well as other operations in the South South zone of the country have sustained the efforts to deny oil thieves avenues to sabotage economy through ongoing “Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO” and sustained a relatively safe and peaceful environment for business activities to strife in the region.
“If Asari Dokubo is seeking some form of relevance and he alleges that there are cabals of military personnel who are involved in crude oil theft, let him bring the names. Nobody is afraid of getting the names of those involved in crude oil theft. You can not make such serious allegations and think that we just sweep it down the carpet, there will be an official response from Defence Headquarters on this matter. The Chief of Defence Staff does not condone that, nor those the Chief of Naval Staff under whom I serve.
In conclusion, if this is not well addressed by those concerned, this blanket and outlandish claims without specific facts or investigative reports against the Nigerian military without qualification could cause distraction or trouble in the nearest future.
Olayemi Esan is a media and Public Relations Practitioner, a Director at Spye Communications Limited and can be reached via email@example.com