The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has accused the military for alleged connivance in high rate of crude oil theft in the country.
The National President of PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, told the Senate panel’s investigation into oil lifting and theft chaired by Senator Akpan Bassey that the crime was a collaborative crime between military personnel assigned to protect oil installations and the locals running illegal refineries.
He 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, therefore, challenged the regulatory agencies and various security outfits to be alive to their responsibilities in order to solve the problems.
He alleged that men of the Amphibious Brigade and their counterparts in the Navy were in connivance with superior officers at different times in Port Harcourt to carry out the crime. He added “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.”
The Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Administration in Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Mr. Jide Adeola, said about 600,000 barrels of crude oil were stolen per day. According to him, “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.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Akpan Bassey, said he had never seen “economic sabotage of this magnitude and it must be stopped.”