Rivers - The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, said on Tuesday in Port Harcourt that its personnel were not involved in any form of illegal bunkering.
Lt. Col Nwachukwu Onyema, Media Coordinator of the task force said this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
He said the task force had been carrying out its duties and assignments in line with the mandate outlined by the Federal Government.
It will be recalled that the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Rivers chapter, had alleged that the JTF personnel were involved oil theft in the area.
Chairman of TUC in Rivers, Comrade Chika Onuegbu, had said in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Tuesday that the allegations by NUPENG were true.
Onyema described the allegations by TUC and NUPENG as “campaign of calumny” and “mudslinging”.
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“I want to assure you that the JTF will not be deterred by any campaign of calumny or any mudslinging that is being carried out by NUPENG and TUC under their present leadership.
“We will not sell our conscience. Their claims are unsubstantiated and baseless; unsubstantiated because this campaign of
calumny is coming when the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources has just declared that
there is an increase, positive increase in oil production in Nigeria, which is as a result of increased professional activities of the JTF.’’
Onyema challenged anybody or group with proof of the involvement of JTF personnel in the said oil theft in the Niger Delta to come up with it.
He said two weeks ago, an illegal bunkerer with links in Lebanon, was arrested by the task force in Sangana, Bayelsa after its personnel rejected an offer of 30,300 dollars from him.
“I have said it severally, that if anybody has any claim and any proof of the involvement of any of our operatives in any illegality in the Niger Delta waters, let them come up with that proof.
“How can they accuse the JTF of complicity when just two weeks ago, the JTF paraded before the whole world, an illegal oil bunkerer, who has a link in Lebanon?
“In spite of the fact that he came with a bribe of 30,300 dollars, the JTF arrested him and his vessel, MV Premier in Sanagan, Bayelsa state.’’
The media coordinator said it was unfair for the two unions to sit in their comfort zones and make such allegations against the task force when they could not prove them.