Increased budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Navy and other maritime security agencies can ensure effective combat of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the country’s waterways.
The Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, stated this at an interactive session held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
Stakeholders gathered for a 2-day conference organized by the Nigerian Navy, as part of activities marking its 58th anniversary, hopeful that remedies to the heightened activities of pirates, who are bent on milking the nation dry through pipeline vandalism, oil theft and other related offenses, are found.
Obanikoro noted that the country’s development was closely linked to a safe waterway.
“In the long term, if Nigeria is to meet the target of our administration and our transformation agenda, which is to be among the top 20 economies, then the role of security, especially in the maritime domain becomes more and more imperative,” he said.
In 2013, losses from crude oil theft were estimated at an average of 55,210 barrels daily, which translates to over 1.6million barrels monthly.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Usman Jibrin, said that the decision to hold a conference as part of the 2014 Navy Week celebration was part of the overall strategy to continuously examine and reappraise the procedures within the Navy, in order to ensure that it remains focused.
The theme of the conference was “Combating Crude Oil theft In Nigeria’s Maritime Domain”.
The host governor, Liyel Imoke, also advocated the strengthening of existing laws against crude oil theft, as he emphasized the need for the Nigerian Navy to have the capacity to prosecute those it arrests.
It was also resolved that if all those found culpable of crude oil theft and related offences are made to forfeit personal assets and all bank accounts traceable to them, it would deter others from taking to such crimes.