Oil theft: One Soldier, two Civil Defence personnel killed in Rivers

June 18th, 2019

…As wanted notorious cultist, Loveday killed in gun battle

…OYF berates Soldiers for alleged massacre of civilians in revenge attack

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

A notorious cultist and illegal oil bunkerer who has been in the wanted list of the government for the past years, Korobe Menele Loveday, popularly known as ‘Mene’ has met his waterloo following his alleged led gang shootout with military men on Sunday in Ogoni axis of Rivers State.

Information gathered has it that earlier, suspected oil theft attacked security personnel in attempt to vandalize Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) trans-national-pipelines at Goi community in Tai Local Government Area of the state, killed a soldier from the 6 Division Nigerian Army and two personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on duty guarding the pipelines, with their guns carted away by the criminal gangs who were said to be heavily armed.

However, on Sunday morning, the Army and Civil Defence personnel invaded the area and in the process of alleged reprisal attack on the criminals, tracked a vehicle belonging to the bunkering kingpin in the area, Mene, where the suspects opened fire on sighting the security van.

It was further gathered that the gun battled between the security personnel and the criminals kept the major East-West road, in Tai on hold for hours, no vehicles could continue on hearing the heavy shootings form the duo. But the military later reinforced from the Division, smashing the gangs where Mene lost his life with his other occupants in the vehicle escaped with serious gun wounds.

The Deputy Director Army Public Relations of the 6 Division, Col Aminu Iliyasu who confirmed the incident to our correspondent narrated: “In the early hours of Sunday June 16, 2019, troops of 29 Battalion of 6 Division Nigerian Army (NA) in conjunction with personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) guarding Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Trans National Pipelines at Gio community in Tai Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State were attacked by suspected militants who were hitherto prevented from vandalizing 24″ and 28″ TNP thereby putting them out of the illicit business.

“Unfortunately, during the ensuing fire fight one soldier and 2 personnel of the NSCDC lost their lives and their weapons (one AK 47 and 2 G3 rifles) were carted away by the assailants.

“An immediate reinforcement by troops at the location led to the cordon and search of the general area with the view to finding any criminal believed to be harbouring within the communities.

“Reliable intelligence led to the tracking of the prime suspect, a notorious cultist and illegal oil bunkering kingpin Korobe Menele Loveday who has been on the wanted list of the security agencies for terrorizing communities in the state.

“Consequently, at about 9am, troops cashing on available information sighted a white Toyota Hilux vehicle without number plate, hastily driven with 4 occupants. Efforts to stop the vehicle by troops at a check point were ignored. The gallant troops chased the speeding vehicle and caught up with the suspects around Kira Junction, along Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic.

“Sensing danger, the occupants opened fire at the troops in a bid to escape. Troops reacted, and incapacitated the militants’ vehicle. As a result, the bandits abandoned their vehicle and fled to the bush. However, one of the criminals was gunned down and was identified as the wanted notorious cultists and illegal oil bunkering kingpin Korobe Menele – popularly known as MENE. Others with him, believed to escape with gun shot wounds – leaving trails of blood.

“The following tems were recovered from the scene and in the vehicle:, 1 x K2 Rifle, 2 x Magazines loaded with 52 Rounds of 5.56mm, some personal effects, one pair of vehicle plate number KRK 95DP RIVERS and some documents”.

He noted that the body and other recovered exhibits from the gangs have been handed over to the NSCDC Rivers State Command for further action, while troops continue to track the remaining fleeing bandits to face justice.

Meanwhile, he reaffirms the Division commitment under Maj Gen Jamil Sarham to protecting lives and properties of law abiding citizens in the state.

The GOC also solicits the cooperation of all stakeholders in tackling insecurity within the Niger Delta region through sharing of credible information to the security agencies.

Also reacting on the incident, the Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) condemned the killing of security personnel in Gio Community, Tai local government area.

The Ogoni ethnic group also decries the alleged massacre of three innocent Ogoni youths by Nigerian Army in Bori, “apparently to carry-out revenge for the killing of the said security personnel, an army officer and two NSCDC officers at Gio Community Tai LGA in the early hour of Sunday”.

According to a statement signed by Comrade Yamaabana Legborsi, President, Ogoni Youth Federation, it states “The security forces have a duty to protect, not to attack, the population. The murder these security personnel should certainly be condemned, but their deaths do not justify the slaughter of civilians by the Nigerian army.

“The Nigerian Government has a responsibility to tackle the roots of these problems and restore peace in the area, It cannot just stand by and watch, or intervene only when members of its own security forces are affected”, Legborsi added.

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