December 4, 2023

Oil theft: Security agencies accuse MDAs, oil coys, communities, others of collusion

Oil theft: Security agencies accuse MDAs, oil coys, communities, others of collusion

Security agencies have accused some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including oil companies and communities in the Niger Delta, of colluding to steal the country’s oil.

The security agencies stated this when they appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating crude oil theft and loss of revenue accrued from oil and gas in Abuja on Thursday.

The representative of Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen Gabriel Esho, Department of Operations, listed the contributory factors to include: inadequate or obsolete infrastructure, functional healthcare, electricity supply.

According to him, actors responsible for oil theft are often encouraged by the agencies of the federal government and the international actors are the main perpetrators by lifting crude oil beyond approved license.

He said there is also sabotage on the part of employees of oil companies, adding that the issue of the overlapping effects of militancy was also a factor.

He said because of the huge market demand for products, there is a huge community involvement in bunkering and illegal refineries.

To stem the tide, Esho called for local involvement and investment in technology, prosecution of oil theft, legalising local refineries and remodelling of existing pipelines.

Mr Alabi Abiodun, the representative of Nigeria Police, said, agencies of the Federal Government play a role in oil theft and some oil companies because of their skills, including domestic and foreign involvement.

He said the police were able to put in place the task force to assist other security agencies in arresting those attacking oil facilities.

He listed the factors responsible for oil theft to include attachment of people to their land, adding that they assumed that they must have a say or benefit from their land.

He added that this often forced them to embark on some activities whenever they felt neglected, adding that the inability of Nigeria Police to reach some areas gave room for illegality in the region.

In addressing the menace, Abiodun said perpetrators of the dastard act should be handed over to the Nigeria police so as to prosecute them properly.

He said holistic implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) would also give the community a greater sense of belonging.

He added that the exhibit should be accompanied by suspects when they are handed over to the police.

Also speaking, Air Vice Marshall Hassan Abubakar, in charge of operations, who represented the NigerianAir Force,e said oil theft had negatively impacted the economy of the country.

He expressed worry about the level of theft in the oil sector, saying, “Are we sure that the money gotten from oil theft is not what is used to distabilise this country?”

He said the Navy had been carrying out surveillance, adding that the “challenge is that our access is limited,”

“So what we decided is to have a dedicated access to only the Niger Delta and we need the help of the national assembly.

He said, “Over 90 per cent of oil theft takes place in the night, some of the courses I have attended only solve half of the problem. Only a kinetic approach can go far to solve the problem.

Speaking, Rear Admiral Zacharia Muhammad, Chief of Training, who represented the Nigerian Navy, said to address the issue of oil theft, it must come with collaboration.

According to him, we must facilitate law and policies to ensure collaboration and facilitate the return of the Nigerian Navy to monitor key production facilities.

“We are not represented in what is loaded on the ground and this is disturbing. We see pilfering of oil wells and pipelines that can easily be breached in the Niger Delta.

He said the factors that aided oil theft included collaboration and syndicates because oil theft could not be done by one agency alone, adding that it involved the value chains of oil production.

“We have people who compromise, including domestic and foreigners, who are all culpable.”

NAN reports that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and the Norwegian Embassy, represented by Mr Eivind Fjestald, Business Counsellor, were at the committee.

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