A House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee report has implicated the country’s Service Chiefs, in the continuing theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta, a member of the Committee told The Tide’s source yesterday.
The source revealed that the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Governance Bill will be passed by the House between February and March this year. The piece of modified legislation has been on the floor of the two chambers of the National Assembly, since 2007.
“Of course, the Service Chiefs, NNPC and IOCs, are not serious enough to stop oil theft, and our report is very clear on that. They have not convinced us that they are not involved in the illicit oil business”, he said.
The committee had quizzed the Chief of Naval Staff, Inspector General of Police, the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, over continuing and alarming theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta before the House adjourned last year for the Christmas recess.
The chairman of the Ad hoc committee on crude oil theft, Rep. Peter Akpatason, had earlier told some journalists, that the panel will invite Service Chiefs and other stakeholders in the sector, to explain the continuous pilfering of oil by an alleged cartel in the country.
The Committee alleged the theft of crude oil, with the assistance of some officers of the Nigerian Military and ex-servicemen.
Akapatason, who is also the Acting Leader of the House, decried the alarming rate of oil theft recently. He recalled that the Federal Government under the leadership of former president Olusegun Obasanjo had set up a committee to look into oil theft in 2001, which reported that oil theft by a group of highly placed persons posed a threat to the oil sector.
He informed that the committee will hinge its inquiry on 2001 findings to uncover those behind the crime.
“Oil theft is a very serious problem that is as old as the oil industry itself. Oil theft has assumed a very alarming rate in recent times.
“As far as back as 2001, the federal set up a committee which noted a major threat to Nigeria oil industry arises from the activities of a cartel or mafia which comprises highly and powerful placed individuals running a network of agents to steal crude oil and finished petroleum products from pipelines in Nigeria and could be possible enjoying the patronage of some retired or top serving military or security personnel, political allies of government who benefit from the illicit oil business and have persistently frustrated efforts by the international community to assist Nigeria in fighting the menace.
“This a very serious allegation by the committee set up by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and we are going to take up this investigation from that perspective to look at who are actually responsible and how we can stop this criminality and ensure that revenue derivable from the oil and gas sector is exactly what we ought be getting what in this country, nothing short of that”, he said.
He said security Chiefs and other stakeholders will be invited to explain the persistence of the crime. Recall that on September 26, the House through a motion raised the alarm, that Nigeria was losing about N5 trillion annually from oil theft and about 22 million barrels of crude oil, counting for about N1.3 trillion loss of crude were stolen in the Niger Delta in 2019 alone.
The committee’s mandate was to determine the volume of crude oil extracted in the country on a daily basis; determine the quantity sold at the internal markets and the quantity consumed locally; ascertain the quantity of crude oil stolen on a daily basis and the people responsible for the theft; further determine the quantity of crude oil that is reserved daily to process into kerosene, diesel and to ensure that a thorough environmental Impact assessment of the damage caused to the ecology is carried out. (Culled from The Tide, Jan. 3 2020.)