ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Five suspected vandals have been apprehended by the police in Bayelsa State for allegedly blowing up crude oil pipelines and engaging in illegal bunkering and other criminal activities.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Bayelsa State Command, Asinim Butswat, made this known on Tuesday in Yenagoa during the parade of the suspects at the State Police Headquarters.
The paraded suspects were Messrs. Kelvin Sutomwa Martin, 37; Ebiebere Paul, 42; Christian Ayibatariworio, 43; Owori Clarkson Paul, 45 and Beregha Kingsley, 32.
The spokesman said in recent times, the command was confronted with reported cases of pipeline vandalism, sea piracy and illegal oil bunkering activities.
He said those crimes had negatively impacted the environment, most especially the marine life and the economy of the country at large.
He recalled that on 30 July, 2022, suspected pipeline vandals blew up a trunkline carrying crude oil from Omoku to Brass terminal at Etiama, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
He said that in a related incident on August 11, the same suspects with the aid of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew up a crude oil delivery pipeline at Obama Tekere River which supplies crude oil to Brass Terminal.
Worried by the attacks, Butswat said the Commissioner of Police, Ben Nebolisa Okolo, charged the command’s tactical teams to intensify efforts to arrest the perpetrators.
The spokesman said: “Consequently, on 6th August 2022 at about 1145 hours, acting on credible intelligence, the operatives of the Anti-kidnapping Unit arrested one Kelvin Sutomwa Martin, aka Lugard at Agbura, Yenagoa, aged 37.
“The suspect has been on the wanted list of the command for various offences such as: kidnapping, sea piracy and pipeline vandalism. Upon interrogation, the suspect mentioned his cohorts who are residents of Ogbolomabiri, Nembe LGA.
“In a follow up operation on 12 August, 2022, operatives of the Anti-kidnapping Unit in collaboration with youths working for Labrador Security outfit arrested one Ebiebere Paul, 42, Christian Ayibatariworio, 43, Owori Clarkson Paul, 45, and Beregha Kingsley, 32, aka Kalaboy, after a fierce gun battle at their hideout in Ogbolomabiri and Nembe creek.
“All the suspects have confessed to their involvement in the recent attacks on a crude oil delivery pipeline at Obama Tekere River and a trunkline at Etiama, Nembe Local Government Area.”
Butswat, a Superintendent of Police, said the command would continue to collaborate and synergize with other sister security agencies, community youths and relevant stakeholders to protect critical national infrastructures.
He said the suspects would be charged to court at the conclusion of the investigation.
But speaking on his arrest, one of the suspect’s, Kelvin Sutomwa, who hails from Ogbolomabiri in Nembe, claimed he was not the person that blew up the Nembe pipeline.
He said: “I went to visit my brother who was not feeling well when I was arrested by the police.
“It was when they brought me to the police station that they told me that I am a pipeline vandal, economic saboteur, kidnapper and armed robber.
“I am not the one that blew up Nembe pipeline. I am an Amnesty student of First Phase paid by the Federal Government and I am doing small business to augment my income.
“When they arrested me, I told them I was not part of the people that blew up the pipeline and that I am also not a kidnapper.”