Surveillance operation in Bayelsa uncovers illegal bunkering camps and perpetrators

The discovery of illegal bunkering camp in Bayelsa links prominent security firm to widespread oil theft operations

by Oluwatosin Racheal Alabi

During the early hours of Sunday, June 23rd, 2023, surveillance security operatives conducted patrols in the Okoroba axis of the Nembe local government Area, Bayelsa state.

Their mission led them towards the Elemuama axis, where they discovered a remote bunkering camp.

Hence, the operatives moved to dismantle the illegal operation, uncovering startling evidence implicating Amotoi Global Services Limited (Amotoi Global), a company reportedly linked to Barr Amunaboye Clement. Amotoi Global provides surveillance security services to Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (Aiteo), an oil exploration company belonging to pan-African billionaire Benedict Peters.

The identity cards of the Amotoi Global employees discovered on-site and other incriminating evidence raise severe questions about Barr Amunaboye and his company’s involvement in illicit oil bunkering activities in the region. This evidence is a significant breakthrough in efforts to curb such activities.

Further investigation revealed two additional unauthorised bunkering camps nearby. The surveillance team seized and subsequently destroyed two large boats loaded with crude oil and a fibre boat, which were set ablaze to prevent further illicit activities. These boats could carry large quantities of oil, indicating the scale of the operation.

Coordinates of Seized Boats: 

N 4°35’40.67814″ E 6°27’8.71992”

N 4°33’8″ E 6°28’0”

Coordinates of Illegal Bunkering Camps: 

4°35’39.70776″ N 6°27’5.30052″ E

4°35’38.97882″ N 6°27’7.04682″ E

Partners in crime: Thomas Livingston and Obiene O Obiene under Scrutiny

It is a known fact that Mr Thomas Livingston is a conventional bunker whose operations are spread across Bayelsa State and in the creeks of Nembe—Brass in particular. He owns several illegal bunkering camps and controls a vast transportation network that transports illegal refined petroleum products to various parts of the state. However, this is the irony of life because Thomas Livingston is also the coordinator of all illegal bunkers that vandalise the facilities of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company.

How can the environment be free from all these illegal bunkering activities when people like Thomas Livingston are stealing, destroying and selling oil companies’ facilities and products? Mr Thomas Livingston should be arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.

Meanwhile, Obiene O Obiene, alias “Organiser,” remains a notorious economic saboteur within Nembe and Brass L.G.As. Known for his role in pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering operations, Obiene orchestrates a sophisticated network that recruits and transports individuals to carry out these destructive activities. His continued evasion of justice underscores the need for stringent measures to halt systematic economic sabotage in the region.

This collaboration has significantly impeded efforts to address and resolve the nation’s oil theft crisis. To safeguard the region from further environmental and economic harm, it is imperative to bring figures like Obiene O Obiene and Thomas Livingston to justice.

On October 10, 2023, the Nigerian Senate, in its commitment to addressing the issue, revealed that the country lost N2.3 trillion to crude oil theft. Senator Ned Nwoko revealed that pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering have precipitated a severe socio-economic crisis in Nigeria. He emphasized that statistical data underscores the gravity of the situation, further exacerbated by the complicity of some security agents collaborating with the perpetrators.

In a recent disclosure, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd reported a staggering 400 incidents of crude oil theft within the past week. The bulk of the 400 incidences recorded during the week occurred in the Western region of Rivers and Bayelsa states, with 265 incidences.

They include illegal refineries, unauthorised pipeline connections, vandalism, oil spills, and unlicensed storage sites. From June 15 to June 21, 2024, the NNPC identified 165 illegal refineries, 69 unauthorised connections, 15 acts of vandalism, eight oil spills, and 19 illegal storage locations. Additionally, there were 74 vessel AIS infractions, among other violations.

An anonymous regional expert suggested that “measures such as the complete confiscation of assets and freezing all accounts using BVNs will be a highly effective course of action by the EFCC and relevant bodies as Nigeria seeks to combat oil theft. We must ask the EFCC what steps they are taking to address this situation.”

For several years, oil producers have lamented the debilitating effects of pipeline vandalism, crude theft, and illegal crude trafficking.

Some of the worst-hit companies transport their crude through significant arteries like the NCTL. These disruptions not only lead to production downtime and loss of crude oil but also incur additional expenses for facility repairs.

Gangs and operatives identified in this report are primarily responsible for these actions. While the extent of their independent operations is still being determined, it is evident that the audacity of these activities is not solely due to their resolve.

Even as their identities are now known, the relevant authorities must arrest, charge, and prosecute these criminals whose sole intent is to sustain this high economic sabotage.

Concerned Nigerians must demand accountability from law enforcement agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the police.

Despite numerous alarms raised by various entities and the government, these crimes continue to benefit the perpetrators, leading to ongoing unchecked activities.

Measures like asset confiscation, freezing the bank accounts of known criminals using their BVNs, arrests, and expedited prosecutions must be intensified. Nigeria cannot afford to let these criminals destroy and impoverish the economy to insolvency.

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