After Accusing Jonathan of Lethargy in the Graft War, Tambuwal Moves against Crude Oil Thieves






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Barely 48 hours after he had accused President Goodluck Jonathan of encouraging corruption in Nigeria, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, on Wednesday moved against crude oil thieves in the country and told his colleagues that “It will amount to self-delusion to assume that those who break pipelines are small time criminals, the real culprits are ‘investors’ and ‘godfathers’ who invoke their powers to give protection to their accomplices down the ladder of the criminal enterprise.”
The speaker reminded his colleagues that the crime in the oil and gas sector was not just by ordinary criminals but an organised one that enjoys the backing of highly placed government officials and institutions in the industry.
The Speaker, at the inauguration of a 17-man Ad Hoc committee on crude oil theft headed by Hon. Bashir Adamu (Jigawa State), charged that the committee should document the seriousness, environmental and socio-economic effects of oil thefts to the federal government and the Niger Delta region.
The committee will begin a 5-day Public hearing at an unspecified date, just as the Speaker disclosed that the House is poised to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law in no distant future.
Tambuwal, who lamented that: “in the last two and a half years the House has been steadfastly probing the problem, said the committee is mandated to examine the mindless theft of over 100,000 to 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily, leading to the loss of billions of naira in oil revenue.
He also stated that the House needs to gear up and facilitate the upgrading of security operatives capability in probing the problem and bringing those who break the law to book.
He emphasized that law enforcement agents must be ’emboldened’ to approach the crime from “a more sophisticated angle.”
“This is a very complicated and very sophisticated business and it will be foolish to think of the culprits in terms of area boys who break pipelines. We must realise that without the protection of highly placed people, without the connivance of officials and experts in the sector, the activity of illegal bunkering would have been curtailed long ago,” the Speaker said.
He offered that: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, for instance, should be made to take a closer look at those behind the transportation and purchase of stolen oil – and act in conjunction with other international law enforcement agencies for criminal prosecution under the procedure of Mutual Legal Assistance.”
He advised the members of the committee to review the report by the Royal Institute for International Affairs “which alleged that Nigeria’s oil was being stolen not just from pipelines, but also from tank farms, export terminals, refinery storage, ports and even wellheads.”
Quoting from the report, which outlines that bunkering is an organised crime whose modus operandi involves falsification of documents, meter tampering and money laundering, Tambuwal, observed that: “obviously, oil theft in our country has now reached an industrial scale and we need the concerted efforts of all stakeholders.”
In his keynote address, Adamu said “it is a known fact that crude oil theft in Nigeria has been discussed in many fora within and outside the shores of this country.”
“We are also aware that many committees have been set up in the past by the executive arm of government to proffer solutions to this national problem,” he said.
He lamented that Nigeria loses “an estimated $5billion (N780 billion) yearly, amounting to $400 billion since Nigeria’s independence,” saying that: “statistics show that a total of 350,000 barrels per day was lost to illegal bunkering in 2012, representing an increase of 45 per cent over the figure of 2011, and 67 per cent over that of 2010, while the trend for 2013 is even more alarming. Unless the government summons the will to fight the menace, the situation will further worsen the country’s economic woes.”

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