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‘Oil theft proceeds used to finance militancy, crimes’

The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, has said proceeds from illegal bunkering might have been used to finance militancy or insurgency.

He said such illegal funds might have been channelled into acquiring illicit small arms and light weapons that fuel crime, violence and insecurity in Nigeria.

Musa spoke during an interactive forum with media executives in Abuja.

The NOSDRA chief noted that considering the negative effects of crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refining in Nigeria, the agency thought it wise to extend its efforts at checkmating criminal activities by articulating measures that go beyond law enforcement and security maintenance.

He said: “NOSDRA has established a good working relationship with security and law enforcement agencies, like the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), in tackling head-on the challenges of pipeline vandalism, crude theft and illegal refining.

“Regrettably, the attendant oil spillage, mainly emanating from this evil triad in the country’s oil industry, has come with adverse consequences, like pollution of the environment and harming its flora and fauna, impairment of human health, undermining of means of livelihood and stoking of furnace of communal agitation due to oil pollution.

“Apart from the staggering amount of tax payers’ money used to repair or replace the vandalised oil facilities, since the Nigerian government holds the larger percentage of equities of major oil companies, like Shell, Agip and Chevron under the joint venture arrangement, or carry out effective clean-up of oil impacted sites, it is estimated that the country loses billions of naira annually through crude oil theft.

“The agency has also entered into fruitful partnership with relevant stakeholders, including oil bearing communities, like the media, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with the main goal of creating deliberate, systematic and result-oriented public education, awareness and advocacy campaigns on the evil of such oil industry crimes.

“It is expected that the mass media, through their formidable platforms, like news stories, editorials, commentaries, documentaries, features stories and sloganeering campaigns, would play a valuable role in the efforts to control and constrain crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refining.

“As the director-general of NOSDRA, I am calling on those involved in pipeline vandalism to desist from the act. I am making a public appeal for exhibition of patriotism, which is one of the hallmarks of true citizenship.

“I am of the view that it is unheard of in other oil producing climes that people, no matter the extenuating circumstances, break the pipeline as a means of registering their grievances or scooping fuel in a bid to become rich overnight.”