The Nigerian military and former Niger Delta militant leader, Asari Dokubo, are heading towards a confrontation that could rival a comedic skit. Dokubo recently made explosive allegations, claiming that 99 percent of oil theft and bunkering in the Niger Delta region are orchestrated by the armed forces, particularly the Army and Navy.
While the Defence Headquarters and the Nigerian Army are yet to respond to Dokubo’s indictment, the Nigerian Navy has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging the ex-militant leader to provide concrete evidence, including names and facts, to substantiate his claims regarding military officers’ involvement in crude oil theft.
Dokubo made these weighty allegations during a press conference held after his meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the presidential villa in Abuja. He accused the Army and Navy of intimidating the operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), who are responsible for safeguarding the oil pipelines.
These allegations come on the heels of President Tinubu’s directive to the Service Chiefs and heads of security and intelligence agencies to crack down on oil theft, emphasizing his administration’s zero-tolerance stance on this menace.
During his meeting with President Tinubu, Dokubo also revealed the existence of notorious naval commanders who are allegedly the masterminds behind oil theft and bunkering activities. According to him, even if the government were to award one billion contracts to tackle oil theft, it would be ineffective due to the influence and support these military personnel receive from the Army and Navy.
In a surprising twist, Dokubo has volunteered to assist in ending this rampant oil theft, confident that the Tinubu administration will protect him. His dedication to combating this issue stems from his belief that it is a crime against humanity, as it devastates the livelihoods of the people in the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole.
Furthermore, Dokubo accused the military of engaging in blackmail by claiming insufficient armament to combat insecurity while surrendering weapons to insurgents. He argued that Nigeria is currently embroiled in a full-scale war in various parts of the country, extending beyond the Boko Haram insurgency. Dokubo himself has been actively involved in maintaining security and rendering mercenary services to the federal government, ensuring the safety of citizens across different regions.
Additionally, Dokubo called for the prosecution of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), stating that his release would only foster impunity and reward criminal behavior.
In response to Dokubo’s allegations, the Nigerian Navy challenged him to substantiate his claims with names and facts, highlighting the Navy’s relentless efforts in combating crude oil theft. They emphasized that significant progress has been made in curbing oil theft in the Niger Delta, with the Navy seizing over N70 billion worth of crude oil products from illegal artisanal refineries operated by individuals from the region.
Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the director of Information at Naval Headquarters, called Dokubo’s accusations spurious and urged him to provide evidence to support his claims.
As this oil theft saga unfolds, it remains to be seen how both sides will navigate this peculiar situation. The stakes are high, the accusations are wild, and the comedy of errors continues in the battle against oil theft.