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Senate decries N2.3t oil theft, investigates security agents

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The Senate has ordered a comprehensive probe into the activities of security forces and organised groups employing sophisticated techniques to steal crude oil in the country.

This decision was prompted by a motion put forth during Tuesday’s plenary session by Senator Ned Nwoko (PDP, Delta North), who reeled out data on what Nigeria loses to pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering.

Nwoko pointed out that Nigeria had lost N2.3trillion to oil theft this year alone.

He said, “Despite the efforts of certain military personnel and security agencies, like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and the Department of State Services in combating oil theft in the Niger Delta region, there are individuals within these 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 oil facilities in the country. Given Nigeria’s vast oil and gas reserves, one would expect crude oil production to continuously increase, aligning with OPEC’s production quota of 1.74 million barrels per day”.

The Delta lawmaker further said there had been accusations and counter-accusations of oil bunkering and various other crimes between the military and local militia groups.

These allegations,  he said, underscored the significant level of sabotage and disruption to the nation’s economic backbone.

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

“In March 2023, Nigeria incurred a substantial loss of 65.7 million barrels of crude oil, valued at $83 per barrel, translating to a staggering revenue loss of N2.3tn as a result of oil theft”, he added.

He, therefore, urged the Senate to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the oil thieves and their collaborators in the security forces.

Senator Abdulfatai Buhari  (APC, Oyo) in his contribution, called for punitive measures to combat oil bunkering.

He said, “We carry out investigations every year but in the end, nothing has come out of it. We need to review our laws and take punitive measures against oil thieves”.

Similarly, Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo) said oil theft was an organised crime involving the bunkers and the security operatives.

This, he explained why many security agents lobbied their superiors to be posted to the oil-producing communities.

Consequently, the Senate instructed its committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream, Downstream, and Gas), Host Communities, and Niger Delta Affairs to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the activities of security forces, militia groups, local residents, oil company personnel, and any individual or entity suspected of employing advanced methods to illicitly obtain resources from oil facilities.

In his remarks, Senate President Godswill Akpabio said oil theft had impacted negatively on the country’s oil production capacity despite its growing population.

He asked the committees to carry out a thorough probe and report back to the Senate in six weeks.

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