………’Soldiers bribe their way to be posted to the Niger Delta’
………..The Amphibious Brigade, PH are culpable – PENGASSAN boss
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria [PENGASSAN] has accused the military of culpability for the high rate of crude oil theft in the country.
National President of PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, said oil theft was a collaborative crime between military personnel assigned to protect oil installations and the locals running illegal refineries.
At the Senate’s investigation into oil lifting and theft on Wednesday, which was chaired by Senator Akpan Bassey, the Union alleged that the military and other security agencies were aiding and abetting criminals to steal the crude with the active connivance of the regulatory agencies in charge of the nation’s petroleum industry.
Osifo challenged the regulatory agencies and various security outfits to be alive to their responsibilities in order to solve the problems.
He further alleged that men of the Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt and their counterparts in the Navy, in connivance with superior officers at different times, joined the locals in the theft.
“One of the greatest problems we have, which nobody has highlighted, is that there is strong connivance of our security forces in the crime. There is no doubt about this. From our Army to our Navy officers, we have information that they pay their superiors to post them to some areas in the Niger Delta.
“I can authoritatively inform this committee that men of the Nigerian Army and the Navy pay their superiors to be posted to Niger Delta. Even when the former Commander of the Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt was removed, many of the men in the command resisted being posted out due to the ‘lucrativeness’ of their operational areas.
“I think the people who have a solution to this problem are not even the ones sitting here. They are the ones you will invite behind the camera”.
Also, the executive commissioner, corporate services and administration in Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission [NUPRC], Mr Jide Adeola, said about 600,000 barrels of crude oil were stolen per day.
“As of today, Nigeria produces 1.23million barrels of crude oil per day as against 1.8million barrels targeted, leading to total revenue loss, as of today, of $2.1billion or N877billion,” he said
Akpan Bassey said he had never seen economic sabotage of this magnitude and it must be stopped. “The required political will through the instrumentality of legislative intervention shall surely be done after meeting other critical stakeholders like the Nigerian National Petroleum Company [NNPC] Limited, the military, etc,” he noted.
Bassey said if the ongoing theft was not immediately stopped, it would also frustrate the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act [PIA]