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Oil theft crippling Nigeria’s economy ,High Profile Nigerians Behind the Crime

The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has expressed worries about the adverse effect of illegal oil bunkering on Nigeria’s economy.

Meanwhile due to the alarming rate of oil theft in-country, Nigeria Security and Civil Service Defense Corps, NSCDC, Delta state command, has disclosed that heads will roll if they decide to publish the names of high-profile individuals who are behind the crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in Nigeria.

Shell has also declared that oil theft in the Niger Delta is an organised crime that involves high and experienced  individuals in the society.

Head, Corporate Relations Nigeria & Director, SPDC of Nigeria Limited, Igo Weli,  stated this in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday, during an SPDC JV engagement with journalists on crude theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refineries with theme: ‘Curbing the menace of illegal refineries and crude theft.’

Weli  said illegal refineries and crude theft have drastically affected the economy, which has manifested in the low exchange rate and other challenges confronting the country.

According to Weli,  illegal refineries and crude theft  has gotten worse because the stakeholders in the industry have seen the problem as oil companies’ problem.

He cautioned that if the excesses of oil thieves are not checkmated, government’s budgets for education, health, security and other sectors would be used in cleaning up the polluted environment.

In his presentation, Lead, Right-of-Way and Encroachment, Shell, John Okojie,  said oil thieves invest much resources in the illegal business, and equip themselves with sophisticated weapons. 

According to him, the level of economic sabotage caused by oil bunkers to Nigeria economy was alarming and disturbing.

He said: “People invest heavily in the business and the people who are involved in this illegal refineries are people who have experience in the industry…”

Meanwhile due to the alarming rate of oil theft in-country, Nigeria Security and Civil Service Defense Corps, NSCDC, Delta state command, has disclosed that heads will roll if they decide to publish the names of high-profile individuals who are behind the crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in Nigeria.

While disclosing this, the public relations officer of the NSCDC in the state, Emeka Peters had this to say; “Heads will roll, if the corps decides to publish the names of those behind crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegally dealing in petroleum products, economic Sabotage amongst others.

 “Following preliminary investigation and confessional statements from suspects arrested. The suspects revealed some of the identities of their sponsors and those behind crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegal refineries, economic sabotage, and a host of other socio-economic crimes under the purview of the NSCDC.

 The force is poised to publish the names of those behind the dastardly act, which as indicated from the confessional statements made by suspects contained names of high profiled personalities, respected leaders in the societies, even retired and serving uniform personnel and their relatives.”

It is disappointing to discover that some high-profile individuals are behind the vandalization of pipelines and crude oil theft in Nigeria, which has no doubt crippled the Nigerian economy.

Sources disclose that Nigeria loses about $7.3 billion a year to crude oil theft. This has also resulted in the country’s inability to meet OPEC’s production quota. The incessant crude oil theft has continued to sabotage the nation’s economy, despite efforts from oil and gas experts to curb the menace.

Aside from the negative economic effect of vandalism and crude oil theft in Nigeria, these careless acts also cause serious damage to the environment. It has led to the pollution of land which makes it unfavorable for planting and has also increased the mortality of animals in the aquatic habitat due to oil spillage. It also causes environmental degradation, which poses a serious health challenge to those living around the environment.

Often, when these theft and vandalization occur, it leads to explosion and fire disaster which leads to massive loss of lives and properties. Rather than generating more revenue for the country, most oil companies spend heavily repairing vandalized pipelines. Sometimes they have to halt oil production due to the damage caused which accrues more loss for them.

Nigeria as an oil-producing country ought to be enjoying so many profits with the rise in the price of crude oil in the international market, due to the Russian-Ukraine war, yet crude oil theft in the country has sabotaged that.

It is unfair that despite efforts to improve the country’s economy, some high-profile individuals in collaboration with criminals are hindering the nation’s economic growth. It doesn’t make sense that crude oil which is Nigeria’s major export and revenue resource is constantly tampered with.

It is obvious that the previous and present administration has failed to muster the political will to adopt effective policies to stop crude oil theft and vandalization of pipelines that have ravaged the oil sector.

It is a pity that crude oil theft continues to thrive in Nigeria because of the collaboration of security officials, the communities, and high-profile individuals/political leaders with criminal elements working together to perpetuate such dastardly acts.

The NSCDC as well as other security organizations should not hesitate to publish the names of those behind it, regardless of their status, so that they can be made to face the law with strict punishment meted out at them. Concealing their names will continue to give them the liberty to carry on with such criminal acts.

The government on the other hand needs to do better as well as implement technologies that would constantly monitor oil pipelines across the country and signal to the necessary officials when such pipelines have been tampered with, so that there can be a swift response to prevent it before they carry out their dastardly act.

Adapted from the Sun but edited

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