The senate has advanced a motion seeking to investigate the persistent and malicious problem of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta.
The motion was moved by Senator Ned Munir Nwoko of Delta North senatorial district, and co-sponsored by Senator Ede Dafinone Omueya (Delta Central), and Senator Joel Onowakpa Thomas (Delta South), during the plenary session on Tuesday, October 10.
In his motion, Senator Nwoko called upon the Senate to establish an Ad-hoc committee tasked with investigating the activities of various parties involved in crude oil theft, including security forces, militia organizations, local populations, oil company employees, and individuals or groups utilizing sophisticated methods to steal from oil facilities within the country. He also urged the Federal and State governments to create conflict resolution mechanisms involving International Oil Companies (IOCs), host communities, and security agencies to address the root causes of oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
Senator Nwoko further recommended that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) collaborate with host communities, local governments, state governments, IOCs, and security agencies to protect oil pipeline infrastructure, with the involvement of private security instead of a select few elites.
He suggested deploying modern technologies like aerial drones to enhance the security of oil and gas facilities, thereby curbing oil theft and safeguarding the country’s revenue. Additionally, he proposed the establishment of a dedicated Special Court to handle cases related to oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and associated criminal offenses.
The lawmaker also advocated for the legalization of artisanal refining to produce more affordable refined products for Nigerian citizens and exploring official avenues for engaging with modular and oil bunkering operators.
Moving the motion, Nwoko highlighted the critical role of the oil sector in Nigeria’s economic growth and development. He emphasized that the sector provides jobs for millions of citizens and contributes significantly to the national budget, with oil and gas accounting for a substantial portion of exported income and government revenue in recent times.
He acknowledged the efforts of some military personnel in combating oil theft but expressed concerns about collaboration between certain members of the military and unscrupulous elements in the oil industry, undermining the nation’s economy.
“How are these people?” Senator Nwoko questioned. He revealed that the impact of these oil thefts on our oil sector is more substantial than what official reports suggest. “While this issue was previously discussed discreetly, it is now gaining more prominent and vocal attention.” Nwoko stated.
The motion gained considerable traction from the Honourable Members. The relevant Senate committees have been mandated to take significant actions as prayed by Senator Nwoko.