Nigeria: Oil Theft - Security Agencies Accuse MDAs, Oil Companies of Collusion

(file photo).
8 September 2023

"We have people that compromise, including domestic and foreigners who are all culpable."

Security agencies have accused some Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), including oil companies and communities in the Niger Delta, of colluding to steal the country's oil.

The security agencies said this when they appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating crude oil theft and loss of revenue accrued from oil and gas in Abuja on Thursday.

A representative of the Nigerian Army, Gabriel Esho, a brigadier-general, who is in the army's department of operations, said actors responsible for oil theft are often encouraged by the agencies of the Federal Government. He said the international actors are the main perpetrators by lifting crude oil beyond approved license.

He said there is also sabotage on the part of employees of oil companies, adding that the issue around the overlapping effect of militancy was also a factor.

He said because of the huge market demand for products, there is a huge community involvement in bunkering and illegal refineries.

To check oil theft in Nigeria, Mr Esho called for local involvement and investment in technology, prosecution of oil theft, legalising local refineries and remodeling of existing pipelines.

'What police are doing'

A representative of Nigeria Police, Alabi Abiodun, said, agencies of the Federal Government play a role in oil theft and some oil companies because of their skills including domestic and foreign involvement.

He said the police were able to put in place the task force to assist other security agencies in arresting those attacking oil facilities, and listed the factors responsible for oil theft to include attachment of people to their land, adding that they assumed that they must have a say or benefit from their land.

He added that this often forced them to embark on some activities whenever they felt neglected, adding that the inaccessibility of Nigeria Police to reach some areas gave room for illegality in the region.

In addressing the menace, Mr Abiodun said perpetrators should be handed over to the Nigeria police so as to prosecute them properly.

He said holistic implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) would also give the community more sense of belonging.

He added that the exhibit should be accompanied with suspects when they are being handed over to the police.

'Limited access for Nigerian Air Force'

Also speaking, Hassan Abubakar, air vice marshal in charge of operation in the Nigerian Air Force, said oil theft had impacted negatively on the country's economy.

He expressed worry on the level of theft in the oil sector, saying "are we sure that the money gotten from oil theft is not what is used to destabilise this country."

He said the air force had been carrying out surveillance, adding that the "challenge is that our access is limited".

Continuing, he said, "So what we decided is to have dedicated access to only the Niger Delta region and we need the help of the National Assembly.

He said, "Over 90 per cent of oil theft takes place in the night, some of the courses I have attended only solve half of the problem. Only a kinetic approach can go far to solve the problem."

'Navy should monitor production facilities'

Speaking, Zacharia Muhammad, a rear admiral and chief of training in the Nigerian Navy, said there must be collaboration between the security agencies and government agencies to tackle oil theft.

According to him, "We must facilitate law and policies to ensure collaboration and facilitate the return of the Nigerian Navy to monitor key production facilities.

"We are not represented in what is loaded on the ground and this is disturbing. We see pilfering of oil wells and pipelines that can easily be breached in the Niger Delta.

He said the factors that aided oil theft include collaboration and syndicates because oil theft could not be done by one agency alone, adding that it involved value chains of oil production.

"We have people that compromise, including domestic and foreigners who are all culpable."

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser, the State Security Service, and the Norwegian Embassy attended the committee hearing.


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