The Northern People’s Forum has decried oil bunkering, describing it as an organised crime against Nigerians that needs to be checked.
The forum’s chairman, Saidu Bello, said this while addressing journalists during a protest by the group on Monday in Abuja. Mr Bello urged the federal government to sustain the engagement of Messrs Tantita Security Limited for pipeline surveillance.
Mr Bello said the forum at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to protest the recent arrest of four of the personnel of the Tantita Security group by the Nigerian Navy.
The northern group’s leader said though the security guards were released, it would be counter-productive to arrest such operatives working with security agencies deployed to protect the nation’s oil facilities.
Mr Bello called on President Bola Tinubu to sustain the engagement of Tantita Security agency by the NNPCL to continue to work with Nigeria security agencies towards protecting the nation’s wealth from being siphoned by a few cartels working against the economic interest of the country.
The northern group said the engagement of Tantita Security had yielded positive results as illegal oil vessels and their operators had been arrested and handed over to the police for prosecution. He added that the NNPCL had also increased the number of its daily quota of barrels of crude oil produced per day to meet the OPEC-approved benchmark.
“In the past, Tantita has been a surveillance group that has been given the contract to supervise the pipeline of this country. They have been doing a good job, and I could even recall that several crude oil vessels have been arrested by Tantita, and it was even appreciated by the government and NNPCL that contracted it,” stated Mr Bello. “They have been working to see that our pipelines are protected to reach the quota given to Nigeria to stabilise and move our economy forward in terms of economic development.”
The northern group noted that the oil sector “is one of the very important sectors which has been bedevilled by bunkering and other forces coming within the domestic and international level,” stressing that it “has become a cartel in this country that bunkering is just being seen as an illegitimate practice, which we feel is a crime against the Nigerian humanity.”
Nigeria was losing over 700,000 barrels of crude oil daily, a situation that could not allow the country to meet its allotted daily OPEC quota, said Mr Bello. He also mentioned that such further triggered volatility in the nation’s fiscal and monetary sectors, affecting our foreign reserve base and triggering a decline in the naira value.
Mr Bello said with the Tantita Security group coming on board, Nigeria could now meet the quota allotted to it by OPEC, producing about 1.4 million barrels of crude oil per day.
“We demand a new security template to include but not limited to pushing the Nigerian Navy in the oil rivers back to its primordial role in protecting interference in the nation’s marine blue line,” the forum’s leader stated. “To effect the arrest of illegal activities across the blue line that may emanate from inbound marine activities so as to allow other security agencies assigned to police the Nigeria waterways do their jobs.”