Governor Nyesom Wike has accused the Nigerian Army of running an illegal oil bunkering racket in Rivers State.
Backstory: Wike particularly mentioned Jamil Sarham, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Army’s 6th Division in Port Harcourt, accusing him of leading a group of soldiers in stealing and selling petroleum products in the region. He made the accusations while hosting a team of military personnel from ‘Operation Delta Safe’ last Wednesday.
According to Wike:
- “The GOC has his own team now doing oil bunkering for him because he wants to be chief of army staff.”
- “He cannot be removed here because they know the role he is playing for them: sabotaging our security architecture,” the governor added.
A video which surfaced online over the weekend showed Governor Wike making the accusations to the team of military personnel visiting Rivers State.
Wike further accused the GOC of regularly divulging confidential security briefings to criminals. He said the reluctance of the military to remove him was deliberate.
- “We would have security meeting, he will release it to criminals. And the Chief of Army Staff will leave the man here because he is playing their role.”
According to Wike, the army has now become an impediment to his efforts in reducing crime to the barest minimum in his state.
Ironically, ‘Operation Delta Safe’ is the joint-security patrol of the Niger Delta region, which is inclusive of the army and naval officers.
The courtesy visit to Wike was led by Akinjide Akinrinade, a naval rear admiral and overall head of the operation.
The Nigerian Army is yet to release an official response to the allegations.
Bottom line: It’s hard to know who to believe on these issues. The governor and the Army frequently throw partisan accusations at each other, none of which is ever investigated. In February, Wike accused the GOC of attempting to assassinate him, while the Army in return accused him of attempting to bribe the GOC.