ELEVEN Nigerians, 10 Indians and two Ghanaians are to face trial for oil theft. They were arrested in the creeks of Niger Delta when naval patrols intercepted two ships carrying crude and refined fuel.
Oil theft by armed gangs who vandalise pipelines to steal crude and then refine or sell it abroad has become a major security headache for the country.
Despite the 2009 amnesty package that was designed to reform and reintegrate demilitarised youths who eked out their living on pipeline vandalism and hostage -taking-for-ransom.
Relying on official statistics, some 180,000 barrels a day go missing out of a total production of two million barrels.
Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has put the quantity stolen at more like a fifth of total output while the International Energy Agency says Nigeria loses $7 billion a year to oil theft.
In November last year, a ship called Mt Akshay run by an Indian shipping company was impounded in the waters of the Niger Delta with 158,000 litres of what is suspected to be stolen crude, said Rear Admiral Johnson Olutoyin of the central naval command.
Aboard the ship were 10 Indians and four Nigerians.
“In the view of the foregoing, the navy HQ has directed that MT Akshay with its cargo and the suspects onboard should be over to the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) for further investigation and prosecution,” he told reporters at a news conference.
Another boat, Mt Eve, was intercepted with 75,000 litres of refined fuel aboard a week earlier, he said. Nine Nigerians and two Ghanaians were arrested.
The naval chief said all the 11 suspects would also be charged.
Nigeria, which relies on oil for more than 80 per cent of government revenues, has been trying to crack down on oil theft, but the swampy nature of the terrain and complicity of local security forces has hampered efforts.
Suspected oil thieves yesterday attacked a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Epe, a Lagos suburb.
A Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Shem Obasheye told Channels Television on the telephone after getting the security report from field officers.
“My boys told me that they were going to Epe, and actually when they got to Epe, the pipeline at Epe has been busted. The vandals ran away,” he said.
According to him, officials of the NSCDC recovered eleven 50-litre containers filled with petrol (Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) at the scene of the vandalised pipeline.
Obasheye , however, said none of the vandals were apprehended.
Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) recovered at least three bodies of suspected vandals who were killed last Saturday after a NNPC pipeline, from which they were scooping fuel caught fire at Arepo, Ogun State.©Standard Gazette, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s publisher is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Standard Gazette with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.