Former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, has called on the federal government to constitute a judicial panel of inquiry to probe the military and officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over activities of oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, Clark who is the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), said crude oil theft has been going on in the region under the watchful eyes of the military.
He said the investigation into the matter must be full, open and comprehensive if there is sincerity to unravel what is going on in the region.
According to Clark, high-powered technological engineering expertise is applied to stealing crude oil from the Forcados line and transporting it through a four-kilometre pipeline to a platform in the sea that belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and its partners.
He said, “According to NNPCL, this is part of the 470 thousand barrels of crude oil that is being lost every month, amounting to $700 million.
“The international oil companies (IOCs) should be directed, once again, this time with sincerity of purpose, to relocate their operational headquarters to the Niger Delta region, if there is a genuine desire to end this menace.
“I want to urge the federal government to launch a legal investigation into this heinous crime of oil theft and to once more call for the provision of jobs for the throngs of unemployed youths. Modular refineries should be built to replace the illegal refineries currently in operation, which not only harm the nation’s economy but are also wreaking havoc on the Niger Delta environment.
“The revelation that there is an illegal four-kilometre pipeline through which crude oil is being siphoned confirms what the leaders of the Niger Delta have been yelling about for years: that the problem of oil theft is being perpetuated by some mafia-like groups, with the help of some individuals in the oil industry, using sophisticated engineering methods to carry out their nefarious acts.
Even more concerning is the fact that these activities have been taking place for years under the watchful eye of military and security personnel. Unfortunately, it has been reported that some of the security personnel who are supposed to be guarding these oil pipelines with numerous gunboats patrolling the area are actually involved in these criminal activities.
“The host communities, from where this oil exploration is carried out, but who are victims of the activities, since they cannot dictate to the oil companies and security officials, have always raised the alarm that the quantum of oil theft going on, is nothing compared to what the artisanal refinery operators are doing. What is going on, is a sophisticated criminal act, carried out by a syndicate.
“The investigation to this matter must be full, open and comprehensive if there is sincerity to unravel what is going on. It is particularly pleasing to note that it is the private security company operated by Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, Tanita Security Services Limited, and the community youths whom he has recruited, that have brought this shameful act to the public and not the NNPCL and its partners or the military.”