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Senate mandates committees to investigate crude oil thefts in Niger Delta

The Senate has mandated its committees on petroleum resources (upstream and downstream), gas, host communities, and the Niger Delta to conduct an investigation into oil theft in the region.

It specifically mandated the committees to investigate the actions of security forces, militia groups, the local populace, all company employees, and any individuals or entities suspected to be using sophisticated methods to pilfer from oil facilities within the country.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion at the plenary on Tuesday on the “urgent need to investigate incessant and nefarious acts of crude oil thefts in the Niger Delta region”.

The motion was sponsored by Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta) and co-sponsored by Sen. Ede Dafinone and Sen. J. Thomas.

Mr Nwoko in his lead debate, said that Nigeria was largely dependent on crude oil for its economic growth and development.

He said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the oil sector contributed 6.33 per cent of the nation’s GDP, which translated to 45.6 billion dollars in 2022.

Mr Nwoko said the oil sector in Nigeria plays a pivotal role in providing employment opportunities for millions of Nigerian citizens, accounting for 70 per cent of its budget financing, while oil and gas made up 90 per cent of exports and 85 per cent of government revenue in the first quarter of 2022.

He said statistical data that has been reported over the years indicates that pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering have brought Nigeria into a serious socio-economic crisis.

The senator said current collaborative efforts involving a joint task force of the military, with contributions from various security entities, state and local governments, and International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta region, have yielded positive results.

He said the efforts have led to an increase in oil production, reaching 1.51 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2023.

”This figure marks an improvement from the 1.49 million barrels per day recorded in the same quarter of 2022 and is notably higher than the production volume of 1.34 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2022.”

Mr Nwoke said that in spite of the efforts of military personnel and security agencies in combating oil theft in the Niger Delta region, he, however, alleged individuals within the institutions who engage in illicit activities.

“These individuals collaborate with unscrupulous figures within the oil industry to undermine the nation’s economy.

“Also observes that it has come to attention that oil theft in Nigeria thrives due to a troubling collaboration between security forces, militia groups, the local population, and certain employees within oil companies.

“These parties employ sophisticated methods to carry out theft from all facilities located within the country, given Nigeria’s vast oil and gas reserves.”

He expressed concern about alleged accusations and counter-accusations of oil bunkering and various other crises between the military and local militia groups.

“In 2022, it was reported that Nigeria suffered daily loss of approximately 437,000 barrels of crude oil, amounting to a value of 23 million dollars, due to criminal activities.

“Moreover, between March 2023 and 2024, Nigeria incurred a substantial loss of 65.7 million barrels of crude oil, valued at 83 dollars per barrel, translating to a staggering revenue loss of N2.3 trillion as a result of oil theft.”

He expressed worry that the activities of oil thieves and their collaborators have significantly hampered crude oil production, posing a substantial threat to the nation’s economy.

Contributing, Sen. Mpigi Barinada (PDP-Rivers) called for a proper check on issues of oil thefts in the Niger Delta, adding that there was a challenge of collaboration among security agencies.

Sen. Osita Izunaso (APC-Imo) said oil bunkering was a major economic sabotage for Nigeria, saying that it was a multifaceted issue.

He said the solution required sustainable measures and not on an ad-hoc basis.

Sen. Buhari Abdulfatah called for a review of the laws to provide for punitive measures for would-be offenders.

Sen. Adams Oshiomole (APC-Edo) urged the Senate to support President Bola Tinubu in the fight against oil thieves, saying that it was time to stop oil thefts in Nigeria.

He said it was shameful that so much had been stolen from oil and urged the senate to invite the service chiefs to interface with the senate on what the security agencies were doing to stop oil thefts.

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, said he strongly believes that the armed forces are in a better position to secure the country.

He thanked the sponsor of the motion while urging the committee to do a holistic investigation in the interest of the nation.

The Senate consequently urged the committees to present its report on the investigation in six weeks.

(NAN)

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