There appears to be a conspiracy of silence by the management of Agip and the Nigerian military on the fate of a soldier who died on what seemed an illegal duty.
Checks by SaharaReporters indicated that the soldier was deployed from Elele Army barracks rather than the headquarters of the Joint Task Force in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Spokesman of the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Col Isa Ado, could not be reached on the telephone for comments on the incident. He did not respond to a text message requesting his comments.
Eni, the parent company of Agip, also declined to respond to enquiries on the incident.
The soldier, who was escorting oil workers from an oil spill site, drowned and a died at Taylor Creek, near an oilfield operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Okordia, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
SaharaReporters investigations revealed that the soldier could neither swim nor was he provided with a life jacket for the assignment.
“The boat conveying the crew from Agip’s field capsized on its way back from the site at the oilfield across the creek and before help could come, the soldier drowned and died
“It is rather unfortunate that the soldier couldn't swim, and he was not wearing a life jacket.
"The 13-year old boy paddling the canoe survived," said the source.
It was gathered that officials of NAOC, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency and oil workers were returning from an assessment visit to the spill site when the incident occurred on Thursday evening.
Mr. Samuel Oburo, Youth President of Kalaba Community in Okordia, said the rifle of the dead soldier was recovered by local divers on Friday.
“Some soldiers from Elele barrack came around after the remains of the soldier was recovered and asked me to mobilize local divers to look for the rifle.
“We went in search of the gun, recovered it and handed it over to them.
"Later in the day, another senior officer came to show appreciation to the community,” Oburo said
Over 25 military personnel are said to have been killed in the last few weeks, following a resurgence of violence headlined by the new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers.
SaharaReporters gathered that senior Army officers in various units and formations routinely make soldiers available for use by oil companies. The officers are said to be generously remunerated by the oil companies.
In many cases, the medium learnt, the soldiers are ill-equipped or not trained for the use to which they are put by the oil companies, thereby exposing them to a variety of dangers, notably attacks by militants and pirates.