… As NSCDC parades 16 suspected oil thieves in Rivers***
Elder Statesman and Ijaw Leader, Chief Edwin Clark on Monday called on the Federal Government to institute a judicial inquiry to investigate the unfolding oil theft in the country.
Clark, who made the call while addressing a news conference in Abuja, describing oil theft as a criminal act, a few hours after which the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Rivers, paraded 16 suspected oil thieves involved in illegal refining of crude oil to produce diesel.
Also read: Oil theft, pipeline vandalism impacting negatively on Nigeria’s economy – Aregbesola
Edwin Clark said that the investigation to the matter must be full, open and comprehensive if there was a sincerity to unravel what was going on.
The elder statesman said: “My attention and that of the entire country have been drawn to the recent discovery of a large scale and sophisticated oil theft machinery going on at the deep swamps at Yokri, close to the Forcados terminal in Delta.
“According to reports, high-powered technological engineering expertise is applied to steal crude oil from the Forcados line.
“This is transported through a four-kilometre pipeline to a platform in the sea, which belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), and its partners.”
Clark further cited the report saying that about 200 hundred barrels of crude oil were been stolen from there every day and that this has been going on since 2014.
“According to NNPCL, this is part of the 470 thousand barrels of crude oil that is being lost every month, amounting to 700 million Dollars.
“Although the NNPCL thinks these have been going on in the past 20 years, some of us have always insisted that this oil theft has been going on for much longer, for about 50 years.”
He said that the illicit four kilometers pipeline through which crude oil was being siphoned indicated that oil theft was being perpetuated by some mafia-like groups, with the connivance of some people in the oil industry.
“What is going on is a sophisticated criminal act, carried out by a syndicate,” he said.
Clark further said that the investigation must uncover all government officials including top officials of the NNPCL and their collaborators, who had inflicted such magnitude of harm on the country, and on the Niger Delta communities.
“It is dangerously incredible that crude oil theft, in spite of all the securities around, has assumed a wider dimension to the extent that the quantity of crude oil we export today is less than the quantity being stolen by a gang of thieves of various designations.”
In another development, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Rivers on Tuesday paraded 16 suspected oil thieves involved in the illegal refining of crude oil to produce diesel.
The corps Commandant in the state, Mr Michael Ogar, paraded the 16 male suspects before newsmen in Port Harcourt.
He said they were arrested by operatives of NSCDC and Nigeria Navy during separate raids at different locations in the state.
According to him, the operations led to the seizure of about 200,000 litres of adulterated diesel that was being readied for distribution to unsuspecting motorists in the state.
“Eight of the suspects were arrested by operatives of NSCDC’s anti-vandal unit while the other eight were handed over to us by Nigeria Navy Ship Pathfinder Port Harcourt.
“The 16 suspects were arrested for their involvement in oil theft and illegal refining of diesel.
“Some of the suspects were caught moving about 200,000 litres of diesel with their trucks, Sport Utility Vehicles and other cars to different locations in the state before their arrest,” he said.
Ogar said the command had made several arrests and confiscated petroleum products following the marching order to the NSCDC by Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers.
He assured the people that the command would not rest until all forms of illegal bunkering of petroleum products and vandalising of oil and gas installations were stopped in the state.
“We are not going to compromise on our mandate.
The many arrests and seizures show that our officers and men have been complying to government directives to stop illegal bunkering.
“Aside from this, we are also going after landlords who connive with criminals by allowing them to use their buildings and facilities to illegally bunker petroleum products.
“The Command is already on the trail of such landlords, and will arrest and charge them to court for allowing their property to be used for illegal activities,” he added.
The Commandant said the suspects would soon be charged to court while the command would seek the forfeiture of the seized vehicles and petroleum products to the Federal.