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Oil Theft: Those in charge must be accountable for failure – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says continuous oil theft in the country, especially in the Niger-Delta region, poses a great danger to Nigeria’s national security. This…

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says continuous oil theft in the country, especially in the Niger-Delta region, poses a great danger to Nigeria’s national security.

This is just as the federal governments’ Special Investigative Panel on oil theft and losses, called for conversations to drive legal reforms that would provide stiffer penalties to culpable entities involved in the oil theft.

Osinbajo, who stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at a one-day stakeholders’ conference on oil theft and losses, said the theft of crude oil and the accompanying attacks on Nigeria’s energy infrastructure, had always been the utmost concern for the Buhari-led administration since inception.

“Oil theft and sabotage of oil and gas assets are a clear and present danger to our economy and national security.

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“Not only do they pose a serious threat to oil exploration and our energy economy, but they also impact negatively on revenue accruals to the Federation and the business prospects of investors in the oil sector if left unchecked,” the Vice President said.

He added, “So grievous a crime cannot simply be a subject of summary; people must do their jobs and if they are unable to do them, then there must be an accounting for such failures. Institutional and personal reputations are at stake.”

Speaking earlier, the chairman of the presidential panel, Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (Rtd) said “frank discussions” must be held to enable the country “crack the code” and put an end to the “criminal enterprise” of oil theft.

The Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) lamented that the menace of oil theft has had enormous negative impact on Nigeria’s crude oil production, plunging output to a 13-year low of 800,000bpd.

He reiterated that strategic consultations have been held with state governments of the Niger Delta region and other critical stakeholders to that effect.

On his part, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd), noted that the problem of oil theft has developed to disturbing levels.

He stated, “This is because the criminals have now increased the level of sophistication, considering the various methods they employ to tap primary pipelines with illegal secondary pipes to load on barges and sell to international collaborators, or to process locally for illicit domestic sale.”

The NSA disclosed that so far, 83 oil tankers involved in crude oil theft have been arrested, while theft of over 3 million barrels of crude oil have been prevented, and 11 million litres of petrol and diesel recovered.

Similarly, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Slyva, alluded to the monumental drop in crude oil production and loss of revenue due to wide scale theft and vandalization of oil assets.

He added that concerted efforts by the government in securing oil assets are yielding positive results, and that the tempo will be sustained to achieve the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota.

Also present at the one-day Conference were all Service Chiefs, Traditional Rulers from the Niger Delta region, and representatives from the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and other critical stakeholders of the oil and gas industry.

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