Petroleum Tanker Drivers under the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, have called off their protest at the office of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp in PortHarcourt, following its refusal to release their petrol and petrol trucks seized last year.
PTD had on Wednesday morning, barricaded the entrance to the office of the NSCDC and a section of the Olu Obasanjo road in Port Harcourt, asking the agency to release their trucks and petrol as directed by a court.
The National Vice Chairman of PTD, Ola Oluwa who addressed members of the union, after a stakeholders meeting with NSCDC, said the security agency promised to release their products on the 28 of June.
Oluwa further asked members of PTD to move their trucks from the vicinity and wait for the compliance of NSCDC.
”Our National Chairman, Comrade Lucky Ozesua, has dialogued with their general in Abuja.
“Immediately, they sent someone down from Abuja to come and interface with us here. So, please, my dear comrades, this man gave us his word.
“They have released our trucks to us. But we said we will not carry the trucks today until the products have been put inside.
“The product, they said they kept it for us for its safety. They said it will take a week or two for them to give us back the product.
“We are going to suspend our action now.”
In the meantime, the PTD has threatened to shut down operations in the country if the NSCDC fails to release their petrol tankers and petroleum product seized last year’s August over allegations of transporting adulterated petrol, as promised.
The Zonal Public Relations Officer of PTD, Johnbosco Alex Bosco, who briefed journalists during the protest on Wednesday, explained that they got a judgement from a Rivers State High Court, ordering NSCDC to release their drivers, their petrol-laden trucks and the product in the tankers.
Bosco alleged that the NSCDC has not only sold the product worth N70,000,000 per truck but has also defaced the tanker trucks, despite the judgement of the State High Court.
He said they had proof that the drivers loaded the petrol from government-approved depots in Lagos and Delta States.
The Zonal Public Relations Officer of PTD claimed the NSCDC is unable to provide their products which were kept in their exhibit yard at Ogbogoro, Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State.
He accused the state Commandant of NSCDC in Rivers State, Michael Besong Ogar of corruption.
“We have papers backing every product we load and we don’t go for illegal products.
“They caught these vehicles, as I’m talking to you, since August last year, they took the matter to the court and the State High Court struck out that matter.
“Now, when the court had made their judgement that these drivers are free; because there is no justification for holding them and their trucks.
“Since then we’ve been appealing to Civil Defense Commander, Mr Ogar. Can you believe that these products cannot be seen anymore?
“The fuel, almost 45,000 litres into three, if you multiply it into what it’s sold now, a truck is like N70,000,000 and the truck itself is almost one hundred and twenty-something million naira, Civil Defense man sold it.”
Meanwhile, the NSCDC said a Federal High Court in Rivers State had given it an order for the forfeiture of petroleum products in the three trucks seized from tanker drivers last year August, for allegedly carrying adulterated petroleum products.
The Public Relations Officer for NSCDC Rivers State Command, Deputy Superintendent, Olufemi Ayodele, told journalists that the court gave the order because of the risks associated with keeping petrol in the tanker for too long.
Ayodele said before selling the petrol, the NSCDC had placed adverts to auction the products but was informed 9 months after, that NUPENG had also gotten a judgement in their favour, for the release of their trucks and their product.
The NSCDC PRO said the agency is working seriously to ensure the matter is resolved but denied changing the colour of the trucks seized.
He said the NSCDC is committed to stopping oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the country.
“Three trucks were impounded, and as an agency that is statutorily empowered to combat illegal oil bunkering, and safeguard critical national assets and infrastructure in the state, the trucks were handed over to us by the Nigerian Army.
“We approached the court through the legal unit of the Command, and we were able to get an order for the forfeiture of the product.
“You know how highly inflammable it is, so it is not right to keep such a product for a very long time.
“The Federal High Court gave the order, which we carried out.
“Just 9 months after we were informed that NUPENG also got a judgement for their product to be handed over to them.
“The products were sold, I believe this morning, NUPENG was taken to the exhibit yard”, he said.