The 16 Brigade of Nigerian Army, Yenagoa, and the Bayelsa State Command of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have clashed over the seizure of two tankers conveying suspected diverted petrol.
The NSCDC had on Friday impounded the trucks along Ogbia-Nembe road and was taking them to its command’s headquarters when soldiers of 16 Brigade intercepted them and took the trucks to their base in Yenagoa, the state capital.
As they clashed, the soldiers who outnumbered the NSCDC personnel, took possession of the truck and compelled the civil defenders to take to their heels.
While officials of NSCDC maintained that it was their mandate under the law to handle oil theft, check diversion of petroleum products, the soldiers claimed that the NSCDC’s operation was suspicious.
Reacting to the development on Monday, The State Commandant, NSCDC, Godwin Nwachukwu, said the two security agencies were already in talks to resolve the face-off.
Mr Nwachukwu said, “Our personnel and soldiers had an encounter in the field but the leadership of the sister security agencies has stepped in and maturity has come to play and we are jointly handling the case.
“Our mandate is very clear and unambiguous 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 relationship we have, it is being resolved.
“We are working with the Army and investigation is already underway.”
The spokesman for the 16 Brigade Nigerian Army, Danjuma Danjuma, said on Monday that the Army intercepted the trucks under “suspicious circumstances” as the community members and NSCDC were engaged in bitter arguments when the soldiers came.
He said that 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 the owners of the products.
He said that until the suspicions were cleared, the trucks would remain with the Brigade.
Mr Danjuma, a major, said, “The trucks are safe and test results are expected in a few days.”
However, there may be fuel shortages in Bayelsa as the various unions in the fuel distribution chain including tanker drivers, have ceased to supply the products until the two trucks are released.
It was learnt that the drivers of the trucks are still being kept in the custody of the 16 Brigade headquarters in Yenagoa.