The Federal Government has warned that it would no longer condone any form of criminality on the nation’s oil and gas facilities and installations.
According to the government, crude oil thieves, pipeline vandals and illegal refiners have their days numbered, stressing that they will face the full weight of the law if caught.
In a statement, Garba Deen Muhammad, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, stated that the warning came from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor and the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, during an on the-spot-assessment of some pipelines damaged by pipeline vandals and other criminals in some areas and communities of Rivers State, on Wednesday.
At Baa Community in Emeoha Local Government of Rivers State where the powerful FG delegation witnessed an illegal refinery burnt down by the Military, Sylva said apart from causing huge losses for the country, the criminals were also destroying livelihoods of locals and the environment.
To solve the problem, Sylva said “the community must be involved, the security arm must be involved and the third arm which is the operating publics must also be involved. | want to let everybody know that these criminals have their days numbered because the country has lost so much from their activities.
In his comment, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky !rabor explained that in carrying out President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives to contain losses from these criminalities, the Military will deploy a different strategy and a new drive by pursuing not only the criminals, but also their sponsors.
“We are not only zeroing in on the criminals, but also on those who are supporting them.”
In his remarks, Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, described the acts of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism as “a national disaster and the perpetrators as criminals”.
“For those who want to do legitimate business, there are clear government regulations on how that is done. But what we’ve seen here today are criminals and their activities will no longer be tolerated.
On his part, the GMD/CEO NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari explained that the scale of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism seen in the community was beyond explanation, adding that all hands must be on deck to contain the spate of crude oil losses in the country.
While appreciating the current leadership of the Military, Kyari expressed confidence that through a collaborative effort of government security agencies, host communities and oil companies operating in the area and with the deployment of the right technology, the menace would be contained.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.