The 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Yenagoa, and the Bayesa State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, have clashed over seizure of two tankers conveying Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
The NSCDC had impounded the trucks along the Ogbia-Nembe Road and was taking them to its command’s headquarters when soldiers of the 16 Brigade intercepted them and took the trucks to their base in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The soldiers, who outnumbered the NSCDC personnel, took possession of the trucks and forced the civil defence operatives to take to their heels during a clash that ensued.
While officials of the NSCDC maintained that it was their mandate under the law to handle oil theft and check diversion of petroleum products, the soldiers claimed that the NSCDC’s operation was suspicious.
The spokesman for the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Danjuma Danjuma, said last week that the Army intercepted the trucks under “suspicious circumstances” as the community members and the NSCDC were engaged in bitter arguments when the soldiers arrived.
He said samples of the products were undergoing laboratory tests to ascertain whether the products were illegally refined or duly sourced from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company as claimed by owners of the products.
He said until the suspicions were cleared, the trucks would remain with the army.
“The trucks are safe and the test results are expected in a few days,” Danjuma added.
Reacting to the development, the state Commandant, NSCDC, Mr. Godwin Nwachukwu, said the two security agencies were resolving the face-off.
He said, “Our personnel and some soldiers had an encounter on the field, but the leadership of the sister security agencies have stepped in and maturity has come to play; we are jointly handling the case.
“Our mandate is very clear when it comes to protecting oil and gas facilities, curbing oil theft and checking diversion of petroleum products. What happened was unfortunate, but due to the excellent relations we have, it is being resolved.
“We are working with the army and investigation is underway.”
Meanwhile, it was gathered that there might be fuel shortages in Bayelsa as various unions in the fuel distribution chain, including tanker drivers, had ceased to supply the product.
The unions, it was learnt, decided to protest against the seizure of the two trucks and arrest of the tanker drivers, who were said to be in the custody of the 16 Brigade.