Sunday , September 25 2022

FG cracking down on crude oil thieves – Malami

• as NNPCL launches app

• says govt spending on pipelines surveillance contract

• says criminals involved in illegal refineries responsible for 25% stolen crude 

The Federal Government is making concerted efforts in addressing oil theft including spending enormous resources on pipeline surveillance security through the regular Armed Forces budgetary spending, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has said.

Other efforts included payments to civilian security companies under unique Public Private Partnership  arrangements.

The clarification came amidst demands by some northern organisations for the termination of the over N48 billion pipeline surveillance contract being handled by repentant Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Malami, according to a statement on Thursday night by his Special Assistant (Media and Public Relations), Umar Gwandu, said these in New York while delivering a paper titled, ‘International action to stop crude oil theft: Proposed measures and the road ahead’, at the Nigeria International Partnership Forum with the theme ‘Scaling up international economic partnerships for Nigeria in a post COVID-19 world.’

The forum was organised by the Federal Government and the African Business Roundtable, an offshoot of the 77th session of the 2022 United Nations General Assembly.

Malami said the Federal Government had taken operational and strategic measures to deal with the challenge through the signing into Law of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 after several years of legislative processing and cycles of review.

According to him, the PIA, which seeks to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, was one of the most audacious attempts to overhaul the Petroleum sector in Nigeria.

Malami said, “New specialised entities such as the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority with clear mandates and statutory powers to handle specific responsibilities in their respective spheres of regulatory influence, were created under the PIA, among other innovations aimed at improving the Nigerian Oil and Gas landscape.”

He added that the Joint Task Force, comprising security officers from all the relevant security forces, were committed to the eradication of illegal Artisanal Refineries in the Niger-Delta region as “criminals involved in illegal refineries were responsible for about 25 per cent of stolen crude.”

The minister said that the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), “is seriously cracking down on crude oil theft with a view to lifting investors’ confidence; mitigate attacks on terminals and the country’s territorial waters.”

He said while prosecution of suspected criminals used to be a challenge, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses Act, 2019 provides legal backing for prosecution and punishment of offenders.

The minister said the office of the AGF remains “committed to effective prosecution of all crude oil theft and related cases, including high-profile ones.”

He said, “On a similar note, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is equally currently prosecuting hundreds of cases bordering on oil theft. All these show a serious resolve by the Nigerian government to punish offenders.

“As recent as August 13 2022, the NNPC Ltd launched an application to check oil theft, called ‘Crude Theft Monitoring Application.’ The NUPRC is also determined to tackle the menace through technology with the use of Lease Automatic Custody Transfer Meters to check flow and pressure rates and to generally improve measuring capabilities.”

The statement added that there was also an ongoing multi-agency collaboration involving the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NUPRC, NPMDA, Nigerian Ports Authority, Ports Health Authority, Nigerian Immigration Service, Shipment Inspection Units — all jointly collaborating to put an end to the menace of oil theft in Nigeria.

The minister said it was upon the realisation of the scale of corruption that the government had continuously embarked on direct action and creative means of eradicating crimes in Nigeria with all hands being put on deck to ensure the elimination of the crimes by providing security and intelligence officers with sophisticated systems and means to tackle the menace.

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