Nigerian armed forces behind ‘99% of oil theft’, former militant leader alleges

A former Niger Delta militant leader has accused Nigeria’s military of being responsible for almost the entirety of oil theft in Nigeria.

About 20 years ago, Alhaji Asari Dokubo founded the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, a militant group that was agitating for local resource control.

Later arrested, he was released under a general amnesty and has been helping — via contracts — consecutive governments to improve security in the delta region.

Dokubu made his accusations just after a meeting with Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu as Aso House in Abuja last Friday.

In a wide-ranging address to reporters, he said: “Oil theft is encouraged by the military. The military is at the centre of oil theft, and we must clarify this to the Nigerian public…99% of oil theft can be traced to the Nigerian military — the army and the navy especially.”

He claimed the army and navy “intimidate” the people who are supposed to guard these pipelines, alleging that “notorious naval commanders” are “kingpins in bunkering activities”.

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Responding to the allegation, a Nigerian navy spokesman told The Vanguard newspaper that the allegations are “spurious and unguarded”, and challenged the ex-militant to reveal the names of officers involved in crude oil theft.

“The Nigerian navy is actively involved in the fight against crude oil theft… in the Niger Delta. So, for anybody to say there is a cabal of military officers, the only simple thing is bring the evidence, bring the names,” he said.

An army spokesperson told The Daily Post that: “The Nigerian army has been vigorously engaged in the fight against illegal oil bunkering, oil theft, oil refining and other crimes in the Niger Delta.

“The 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,” he said.

Environmental activists have called on Nigeria’s president to investigate the accusations.