Vanguard (Lagos)

16 February 2011

Nigeria: JTF Debunks Allegations of Crude Oil Theft

The Joint Task Force, JTF, on the Niger Delta, has described as untrue, claims by some politicians including a member of the Dutch parliament that its personnel were involved in crude oil theft in the Niger Delta.

Rather, it said its operation had brought about improved security in the region with the spate of sea robbery, kidnap of oil workers and vandalism of the nation's oil infrastructure greatly reduced even though of its personnel had paid the supreme price for the security and stability of the region.

Some politicians, including a Dutch parliamentarian, Sharon Gesthuizen in Holland, had in a chat with newsmen, accused the personnel of the Joint Task Force of complicity in oil theft and violence in the troubled region.

But the special security force, in a statement, yesterday, in Yenagoa by its Coordinator Joint Media Campaign, Lt. Col. Timothy Antigha, dismissed the claims of the Dutch parliamentarian "as misplaced and malicious."

The JTF noted that its "personnel are not involved in any act of illegality, be it stealing of oil as was alleged or any other activity which is not in consonance with its mandate in the Niger Delta."

The statement said, "in the last one year of JTF's operation in the Niger Delta, security has improved considerably, the spate of sea robbery, kidnap of oil workers and vandalism of the nation's oil infrastructure has been reduced considerably.

"Within this period also, the nation's economy has rebound significantly on account of the huge improvement in the nation's crude oil output, which is also predicated on security provided by the JTF.

"Most regrettably, some JTF personnel have even paid the supreme price for the security and stability of the Niger Delta region. It is important to note that the successes enumerated above could not have been achieved and the loss of gallant officers and men sustained, if the JTF had compromised as alleged," the statement added.

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