A former member of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Mr Seyi Gambo, has urged government to expose and prosecute Nigerians behind the pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft.
Gambo, a former National Public Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday.
He said that “name and shame” of the influential Nigerians, contrary to other opinions remained a veritable window of addressing the challenges confronting pipelines vandalism and crude oil theft.
According to him, the fight against pipeline vandalism goes beyond vandals, who are mere mercenaries in the creeks.
“The criminal themselves who are giving the required financial, moral and judicial support to the vandals are the influential Nigerians. They are present in both the state and Federal Governments,” he said.
Gambo, who works for Petroleum Equalisation Fund Management Board (PEFMB), said that pipeline vandalism came to the fore in 1999 in Rivers and Delta creeks, had gradually spread throughout the country.
He said the impact of pipeline vandalism on the economy and environment compelled government to engage community guards, vigilante groups, Police, Army, Joint and Special Task Forces to guard petroleum pipelines.
The others were Civil Defence, AIG Task Force, Divisional Police Officers Team and State Security Services to arrest and prosecute pipeline vandals in the Niger Delta.
He said that in spite of the numerous government efforts, the security apparatus in the Niger Delta appeared incapable of solving the high level of crude oil theft and petroleum products pipelines vandalism.
“A recent report by the Pipelines Products Marketing Company (PPMC) shows that what began in 1999 with just 497 reported cases in Gombe, Kaduna, Warri, Mosimi and Port Harcourt increased to over 5,518 reported cases in 2010 with Port Harcourt having the highest number of cases.
“The report also reveals that from 1999 to 2013, there have been over 34,047 records of pipelines breaks/ruptures across PPMC operations,” Gambo said.
He said oil and gas operators would continue to push for the enforcement of existing sanctions.
Gambo urged the National Assembly to harmonise the Oil Pipeline Act to conform to the Miscellaneous Act and the Petroleum Distribution Act toward engendering growth in the sector.
“It is also necessary that a single chain of command be established to coordinate security forces deployed to guard and protect pipelines,” he said.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, only recently accused the International Oil Companies (IOCs) of aiding and abetting crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and piracy.
Jibrin made the accusation in Abuja during a meeting with IOC chief executives at the naval headquarters’ to discuss challenges in the nation’s maritime and the petroleum sectors.
He expressed the displeasure of government over the failure of most oil companies to treat the meeting with some degree of seriousness.
The CNS said the meeting was conveyed to find solutions to the escalating criminal activities in the Niger Delta and the impact on the nation’s economy.