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FG should charge oil thieves for treason

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By Usman Oladimeji

Oil theft will devastate the economy if gov’t does not take swift action.

The incessant occurrence of Oil Theft cases in Nigeria which have been identified as a setback to the oil industry has wreaked severe and unimaginable havoc to the sector. To this end, Former Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola (Rtd), has proposed to the Federal Government to prosecute individuals involved in Oil Theft for treason. Babalola criticized the government’s inadequate response to the theft problem, calling its attempts to eliminate the threat to the nation’s source of government Revenue insufficient.

In his remarks at a seminar organized by the Defense Correspondents Association of Nigeria (DECAN) tagged “Achieving Presidential Mandate in Curbing Oil Theft and Securing the Nation’s Wealth,” in Abuja, Babalola argues that it is high time the government deal with the threat urgently. If the government does not take swift action, he warned, Oil Theft will devastate the economy of the country. He therefore exhorts the authorities to track down the people responsible for the Oil Theft, identify their role in the supply chain, and prosecute them.

Oil production has reach 1.5 million to 1.6 million barrels per day.

Timipre Sylva, the State Minister for Petroleum resources, commented on the situation stating that President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to curb thefts in the nation is already showing positive impact. According to Sylva, oil production has recovered from the severe setback faced prior to the presidential directive, when it stood at 900,000 barrels per day, to reach 1.5 million to 1.6 million barrels per day. Horatius Egua, who acted as Sylva’s representative, claimed that the issues the Oil and Gas Industry is currently facing are the result of years of negligence by previous administrations.

Alongside the danger of Oil Theft, Sylva claimed that previous governments failed to invest in the Infrastructure of the Oil and Gas Industry, leading to considerable blunder and Pipeline ruptures. He did, however, pointed out that the current administration has made significant efforts to rebuild the sector’s Infrastructure. For instance, the Port Harcourt refinery is already operating at 65 to 70 percent of capacity owing to the president’s directive, with the anticipation of even positive outcomes by the end of the second quarter of the year.

The tri-services’ ability was a key factor in the country’s success.

Dr. Ibrahim Kana, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defense said that the tri-services’ ability to work together in planning, coordination, and the execution of concrete programs and projects was a key factor in the country’s success in fulfilling the presidential mandate given to the ministry. According to Dr. Kana, who was represented by Mr. Sunday Attah, Ministry of Defense, Director, Army Affairs, the Nigerian Armed Forces and agencies of the ministry have gained more public support and understanding due to positive attitudinal change among Nigerians.

According to him, Nigerians are now very familiar with the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in securing the country and guaranteeing the safety of Nigerians against Banditry, Kidnapping and Terrorism. He also praised the president for his swift reaction to the ministry’s requests for supplies for Nigeria’s military forces and for his direction in helping the ministry fulfill its constitutional obligations. And also, he acknowledged the president’s action in ensuring that the tri-services are rebranded with modern equipment.

All hands should be on deck in addressing the menace.

Remarking on the Oil Theft issue plaguing the country, Dr. Kana urged that all hands should be on deck in addressing the ongoing thefts, particularly the media. He affirms that Nigerians have high expectations of the media. Thus, it is incumbent upon the media to uphold this trust by publishing only news that can be independently verified as factual and is reported with the utmost Patriotism and professionalism. In context of the NNPC’s admission of daily losses of 470,000 barrels, analysts have estimated that Oil Theft cost Nigeria N1.3trn ($2.9bn) in the first eight months of 2022.

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