IPMAN Taskforce nab gang of wellheads hoodlums in Delta

IPMAN Taskforce nab gang of wellheads hoodlums in Delta
Charles Nwoke, Asaba, Nigeria
March 20, 2021

Image courtesy of local sources, fair use. 

A criminal gang who specializes in stealing oil rigs’ wellheads in the oil-rich Niger Delta region has been apprehended by the Surveillance and Enforcement Team of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, led by Eshanekpe Israel, popularly known as Akpodoro, Sector C Coordinator.

In a statement issued by Akpodoro on Saturday, the gang was arrested in the early hours of Saturday in Ughelli, Delta State.

Crude oil rigs’ wellhead is valued at about N25 million, and when it is pulled from the rig, oil production activities on such a rig would be automatically paralyzed.

The coordinator revealed that the arrest was the first of its kind in the region as the criminal gang had operated for a long time, and have mastered the art of evading security agencies.

The former militant leader said, the team, in collaboration with men of the Operation Delta Safe, OPDS, on night patrol intercepted one Endurance Sylva, at Ughelli in his black colored Golf 4 Volkswagen Car with registration number: Delta SKR 998 AA, moving a wellhead believed to be stolen to Warri, Delta State.

During interrogation by the team, Sylva confessed to the crime. He disclosed that the wellhead was stolen from Kwale in Ndokwa West Local Government Area Council of Delta State.

According to Akpodoro, there was a mild drama as the suspect fled into the bush and escaped. However, credible intelligence later led to his re-arrest at his home in Agbarha, a community in Ughelli North Local Government Area Council.

The suspect upon hearing the voice of the taskforce team climbed into the roof of his house and was captured inside his ceiling at exactly 3 am, Saturday, March 20th, 2020.

“Sylva confessed his accomplices to include: Isaiah Accra, who was swiftly arrested at 4 am at Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South Local area of the state; Larry who was said to be the middle man between them and the buyers is yet to be apprehended,” the statement read.

The surveillance team has since morning launched a manhunt for Larry and other accomplices who were mentioned by Sylva.

Sylva told the taskforce team that his criminal gang specializes in stealing wellheads from oil companies in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States, adding that Delta State was their main operational area.

He said, “We are the ones who stole most of the wellheads from oil and gas facilities. This particular wellhead was stolen from an oil facility in Kwale, we stole from Port Harcourt too. So far, we have stolen three of this equipment in recent time. I built my house in Agbarha from the proceeds of stolen wellheads.”

Sylva was reportedly apprehended and later freed in August last year by the men of the Nigerian Army for the lack of evidence.

Wellhead equipment is normally used by oil and gas companies to connect tubing and casing to an oil or gas pipeline. The casing is a permanently installed pipe for lining the good hole to provide pressure containment and prevent collapse. The wellhead is a flanged device attaching to the casing.

Sector 1 Command of the Operation Delta Safe, OPDS, has taken custody of the stolen item, while Sylva and Accra are detained as an investigation into the crime continues.