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Oil theft is big business, hold Military responsible – PENGASSAN

PENGASSAN

By Haruna Salami

Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), declared Wednesday that the military should be held responsible for high rate of crude oil theft in the country.

The theft as disclosed by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), is about 95.4million litres per day or 600,000 barrels, since a barrel contains 159 litres.

PENGASSAN and NUPRC stated these before the Senate’s Ad – hoc Committee, mandated to investigate Oil Lifting, Theft and the impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues.

In his submission before the committee headed by Senator Bassey Akpan (YPP Akwa Ibom North East), the National President of PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo said oil theft is collaborative crime between military personnel assigned to protect oil installations and the locals running illegal refineries.

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He alleged that the military and other security agencies were aiding and abetting criminals to steal the crude with the active connivance of the regulatory agencies in charge of the nation’s Petroleum industry.

He therefore challenged the regulatory agencies and various security outfits to be alive to their responsibilities in order to solve the problems.

He specifically alleged that men of the Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt and their counterparts in the Navy in connivance with superior officers at different times, joined the locals in the theft.

He said: “One of the greatest problems we have, which nobody has highlighted is that there is a strong connivance of our security forces in the crime.

“There is no doubt about this. From our Army to our naval officers, we have information that they pay their superiors to post them to some areas in the Niger Delta.

“I can authoritatively inform this committee that men of the Nigerian Army and the Navy pay their superiors to be posted to Niger Delta.

“Even when the former Commander of the Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt was removed, many of the men in the Command resisted to be posted out due to lucrativeness of their operational areas.

“I think the people who have solution to this problem are not even the one sitting here. They are the ones you will invite behind the camera”.

In his own submission, the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Administration in NUPRC, Mr Jide Adeola, said about 600,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen per day.

He said as at today, Nigeria produces 1.23million barrels of crude oil per day as against 1.8million barrels targeted, leading to total revenue loss as at today, to be $2.1billion or N877billion.

Worried by the submissions, the Chairman of the Committee said: “I’ve never seen economic sabotage of this magnitude and it must be stopped.

“The required political will through instrumentality of legislative intervention shall surely be done after meeting other critical stakeholders like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), the Military, etc”.

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