Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director of Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has charged the federal government to investigate and prosecute members of security agencies involved in crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking with journalists in Benin, Edo State capital, on Wednesday, Ojo said the probe has become necessary following a recent report by the federal government that over 200 million barrels of crude oil worth about $3.5 billion was stolen in 2021.
He said considering the heavy reliance on borrowings to fund government activities, the federal government’s regulatory institutions should be at the forefront of the fight against oil theft and artisanal oil refining in the country.
He alleged that security agencies in the Niger Delta region aid, influence and provide protection for oil thieves and artisanal oil refining activities.
“This is therefore a matter of national security and President Buhari needs to wield the big stick and cleanse the Augean stables that has become the security architecture in the Niger Delta region.”
Ojo commended the current action by the Rivers State Government to address the issues of oil theft and refining of stolen crude oil and the consequent release of soot into the environment.
“The governments of other Niger Delta states need to take similar actions by identifying and properly decommissioning all artisanal stolen crude oil refining sites in their states to halt this self-inflicted destruction of our environment and unnecessary loss of lives.”
He also called for the development of a holistic framework that addresses both the supply of artisanal products and the high demands for these products in our communities which include rising cost of living, unemployment, and severe impact from hydrocarbon pollution on rural livelihoods.