The Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, has warned oil companies to desist from committing economic sabotage against Nigeria.
The naval chief gave the warning at a meeting with Chief Executives of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja to discuss issues bordering on crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other related crimes in the nation’s maritime domain.
Jibrin expressed anger and frustration over the failure of most oil companies to attach seriousness with the meeting, which was meant to find solutions to the aforementioned challenges that has been eating deep into the fabrics of country’s economy.
The CNS emphasised the fact that the meeting was “conveyed to discuss some of our security challenges that we have in the maritime sector particularly oil theft and illegal bunkering.
“When a meeting of this nature is called, the IOCs must take it very seriously. After all, it took me almost seven and half months to call for this meeting and specifically we said we were not going to accept representation not that those of you representing your various companies are not competent enough to discuss but to drive home the point we wish to make today”.
“We want to make the point very clear; that we have a serious challenge and we need the cooperation of the Chief Executives to be able to provide solution to the daunting security challenges with respect to oil thefts.
“Particularly, it has become very worrisome that we have not been able to check this and I personally believe that it had gotten to a point that instead of pointing accusing finger at each other , we shall be mentioning names; including the major stakeholders”, he warned.
The Naval Chief said that authorities and concerned stakeholders “cannot pretend to say that the oil companies do not have hands in some of these illegalities , saying that “pretending is to allow you to continue and on my part you will not pretend”.
“I can start by citing some examples of some companies that have left their well heads open for years and they have done nothing to seal their wells.
“I am very much conversant with that is we cannot provide solution to these outlets and believing that because of the technical nature of the manifolds and once the manifolds are closed and sealed only the experts can open them and why had they been left open for years”.
Providing details to back up his allegations, Jibrin said that he have pictures, which exposes the complicity of the IOCs in the whole crude oil theft business.
“I can pass it for you to look at them. Why is it that as gentlemen that you are’ all of you cannot sit at a round table and provide solution. Why are we dirtying the image of this country and I felt that it had come to a point that we should meet to discuss and provide solutions to the issue pertaining to oil theft”, he explained.
Speaking further, the CNS said that the government is worried “and those of us that are agents of government are equally worried”.
He promised that on the part of the Nigerian Navy, they will deal decisively with any personnel involved in the oil theft, adding “the person will be dealt with in accordance to existing laws of the armed forces”.
Jibrin however noted that he have limitations to what he can do with the oil companies, since they are not directly under his control.
“But I have decided that I will take some steps that if a manifold for instance is open for years and our attention is drawn to the need for its closure and the companies who owns these oil wells is not taking appropriate action, we shall look for them and start arresting them as we are not only loosing crude oil but also the consequences of losing revenue accrued to the government “, he noted.
“You also pollute the environment and we want to continue to do business in our various communities unhindered , unmolested and to the extent that youths will not protest and we must work assiduously together get the synergy and get a desire result to curb oil theft”, he added.
Responding on behalf of the IOCs, the Chair, Security Sub-Committee, Oil Producers Trade Sector, Mr. Ayobami Olubiyi, assured the Navy of their support in the ongoing effort to curb crude oil theft, piracy and other forms of criminality in the nation’s maritime sector.
“We want to assure you sir, concerning the crude oil theft. Companies will be assisting the Federal Government to mitigate the oil theft and other related issues”, Olubiyi said.
“As far as we are concerned, we will continue to advocate for an improved platform for the Nigerian Navy”, he further assured.