Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State on Monday asked the Federal Government to sink vessels of oil thieves and vandal as part of needed drastic action against the criminal to serve as deterrence to others.
The Governor, who made the request during a courtesy visit to him by the Joint Task Force on Protection of Oil & Gas Pipelines led by the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr. Ade Abolurin, at the Government House, said: “We are very worried about the scale, not only of oil theft but the seeming ease with which pipelines are vandalised by all kinds of criminals leading to huge losses.
“What they steal is nothing to compare to the net loss arising from those activities. Many communities and many villages have been ruined, including my village”.
Oshiomhole argued, “I am told that a lot of the vessels that are seized in the course of tracking these characters whether at sea or around the riverine areas or in the creek, they try to preserve the exhibit for legal purposes. In the cause of these, one thing leads to another. Either they are able to manipulate the system and you have interventions from some quarters and you are asked to let the people go or that they succeed in turning round to again recover what is taken from them.
“My argument then and it is still my argument today that rather than put a man in prison for 10 years, I will rather sink his ship that is worth millions of dollars because at the end of the day, the judicial process can be quite difficult in dealing with this kind of criminals especially when huge sums of money is involved. So the exhibit should be completely destroyed as soon as it is taken before they start manipulating their way and try to find a way to get round the system.
“We do need to make a statement that we can’t hand over this country to criminals and as we have seen, from security issues in some part of the country, when criminals made so much money from activities like this, they become so rich that they can afford sophisticated weapons with which they now use to overwhelm the formal security system and that compound the issue of national security so be assured of my support and I have no doubt that your visit to Edo will be of benefit to all of us in this state and indeed Nigeria.
“I appreciate the efforts of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence in the protection of government properties, not only from what I have seen on television but your men in Edo have been doing a fantastic job to the best of my knowledge and they have been very active in our state security council meetings, bringing very useful suggestions on varieties of security related matters”.
Oshiomhole said, “We are not an oil producing community but there is a pipeline that passes through my village and some of these criminals couple of years back came into my village and burst one of the oil pipes and we had a spillage which contaminated the only stream which is the source of water in my community but for the fact that I had to do a borehole before becoming governor, and have done several more boreholes now, the community would have had no water to drink”.
He maintained, “So the activities of these pipeline vandals are not just in terms of the loss, the huge economic loss, in terms of what is stolen and what is spilled but the environmental devastation that arise from oil spillage and the activities of illegal refineries.
Earlier, the Commandant, NSCDC, Mr. Ade Abolurin said the Federal Government set up a committee on oil theft for the protection of national infrastructures, including gas.
He said the Government was concerned over oil theft and illegal tampering of oil facilities which necessitated the setting up of the committee, adding that the Committee is on inspection of oil facilities across the country to know how best to secure them.