Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
•Govt raises special panel to check crude stealing
Nigeria may lose $ 23 billion next year if crude oil theft continues, National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno, said yesterday.
He said the escalation of acts of vandalism and crude oil theft had led to a significant decline in production.
The NSA spoke while inaugurating an 11-man special investigative panel on oil theft/losses in Nigeria.
The panel is chaired by the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Major General Barry Ndiomu. Mr. David Attah is the Secretary. Other members include retired top military and police officers, as well as other seasoned administrators.
Inaugurating the panel, Monguno noted that Nigeria loses revenue that ought to have accrued from the sale of crude oil, being the main source of its foreign exchange earnings.
NSA said Nigeria had consistently failed to meet its daily production quota of about two million barrels per day as provided by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
He added that the country struggles to meet even one million barrels per day.
Monguno added that recent interventions by the security agencies had revealed massive illicit platforms of stealing, ranging from marine evacuations via vessels, and loadouts from illegal operations platforms.
The NSA said: “The government has been briefed on the dwindling economic fortunes, including the inability to replenish foreign reserves and reduction in revenue, thereby affecting accruals into the Federation Account.
“With the scale of the theft and losses and the alleged complicity of regulatory agencies/officials and security personnel as well as the involvement of international collaborators, the enterprise is deeply entrenched and would be extremely, difficult to exterminate without very stern and decisive action by the government.
“The menace of oil theft/losses is completely unacceptable, considering its attendant impact on the economy, national development and security.
“It is an affront to government and its institutions, which must be tackled without further delay.
“It is in this connection that the government, worried by the ugly trend, among other things, directed the setting up of a Special Investigative Panel on Oil Theft/Losses in Nigeria to investigate all aspects of crude oil theft, identify the culprits and submit its Report for necessary action,” he said.
Monguno said the panel was expected to investigate oil theft/losses in all its ramifications and propose a wide-ranging array of implementable recommendations to enable this administration to take decisive action to end the criminal enterprise within the shortest possible time.
He said members were appointed based on their proven integrity, track record of service, competence and dedication to the national cause.
He urged them to work to unravel individuals and groups perpetrating the national economic crime, no matter how highly placed they might be.
The Terms of Reference (ToRs), according to NSA, are to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the illegal insertion into the Trans-Escravos Pipeline (TEP) around Yokri area in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State
“They are to establish the ramifications of crude oil theft/losses in Nigeria; ascertain the causative factors immediate and remote, of crude oil/theft/losses in the country and ascertain the extent of crude oil theft/losses in the country.
“With the widest possible amplitude, identify persons/entities whether public, private or foreign, involved in the criminal enterprise and establish the level of culpability of identified persons/entities in the enterprise.
“The panel is to also examine the specific roles of regulatory agencies; security agencies, tiers/arms of government and International Oil Companies (IOCs) in aiding and abetting the criminal enterprise.
“They are to also assess the efficacy of security architecture/arrangement in tackling crude oil theft/losses and associated petroleum products and recommend appropriate commensurate and sufficiently, deterrent sanctions on all those culpable,” he said.
Monguno also tasked the panel to recommend steps/procedures/processes to be taken by the government to eliminate the enterprise in the industry to prevent future occurrence and make any other recommendations on any other issue incidental to the terms of reference.
He said the panel was expected to commence its assignment with immediate effect and to conclude as well as submit its report on or before Feb. 21, 2023.
The Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Aliyu Yero, said the menace of crude oil theft had greatly impacted the nation’s revenue growth.
The panel chairman, Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (rtd), said the expertise of each individual on the panel was sufficient to help them fulfill the objectives of setting up the panel.
“We shall work hard to make you proud not least, for the confidence reposed on us,” he said.
The Nation Newspaper, Ltd.