Oil Theft: Buhari’s Marching Order And NSCDC’s Move To Salvage Nation’s Economy
The recent release of funds by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the procurement of eight armoured gunboats and 93 specialised operational vehicles for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) is no doubt , a clear indication that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration is not just impressed but strongly believes in the Corps ability to combat and stamp out the menace of oil theft, and the vandalisation of other Critical National Assets and Infrastructure (CNAI). CHRISTIANA NWAOGU writes.
While many observers believe that the recent support by the federal government to the Civil Defence Corps is in recognition of its giant strides, given the successes it has recorded in mopping up illegal refineries and the perpetrators, others are however of the opinion that the recent procurements of the newly commissioned eight gunboats and 93 vehicles is to increase their mobility and combat efficiency in their mission areas, particularly in the fight against oil theft.
It is no longer news that barely a week after the federal government gave a marching order to the NSCDC to wage a full scale war against oil theft and illegal bunkering in the country to avert further economic hardship, the outfit, the lead agency in the protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure of government, shocked Nigerians with the commissioning of the first of its kind eight armoured gunboats, in addition to 93 well-built operational vehicles to strengthen its combative capacity.
The E-27 special edition gunboats, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered, built by an indigenous company, Epenal group of companies Nigeria limited are expected aid operatives of the Corps to arrest crude oil theft and oil pipeline vandalism.
This is largely because oil theft and pipeline vandalism poses existential threat to the oil sector and by extension, the Nigerian economy, as well as our environment, if not curbed.
Interestingly, this is happening three years after the federal government which has been worried by the spate of vandalism of all the critical infrastructure and national assets in the country, and the threat they pose to the economy put to rest the tussle between the NSCDC and the Nigeria Police over whose mandate it really is, by declaring that the role is constitutionally designated to the Corps.
The National Security Adviser ( NSA) Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) in a document tittle “National Security Strategy” Republic of Nigeria, December 2019, page 28. Sub – captioned Critical National Assets and Infrastructure Security, declared the NSCDC as the lead agency charged with the protection of all CNAI.
Critical National Assets and Infrastructure (CNAI) are assets, services and systems that support the economic, political and social life of a nation. These assets, are so vital that the destruction of any, may have a debilitating impact on security, economy, name them. They include but not limited to rail tracks, telecom installations, oil pipeline, and transformers.
Established by Act 2 of 2003 with numerous security responsibilities, the Act was amended in 2007, to further strengthen and empower the Corps for better service delivery. The Corps operates under the umbrella body of the International Civil Defence Organisation as its 66th member, an indication that it has a distinct mandate from other security agencies, though working towards the same goals.
Having procured and commissioned these gigantic battle ready equipment, the questions begging for outright answers are; Is the NSCDC really ready for this national rescue mission? How well have they protected these Critical National Assets? Are they tangible results to show that they can be relied upon in line with the CG’s declaration of a full blown war against the nation’s saboteurs? If yes, how many of these economic saboteurs have they apprehended, paraded and prosecuted within the period under review? Should Nigerians have faith in their promise of rescuing the nation’s economy? What’s the fate of the few bad eggs among them?
Well, the Commandant-general of the Corps, Dr. Abubakar Ahmed Audi, seem to have answered all of these questions with his recent announcement of the dissolution of all its Anti- vandal squad nationwide. The CG has proven beyond reasonable doubt that his administration is totally committed to rooting out every threat to the corporate existence of the country.
He said, ‘There are insinuations that security agencies act as accomplices and because we want to redeem the image of our service due to reports received about our officers in the field, we want to re-organise the unit. It might sound awful but the right thing must be done. By our action’s, we are practicing what we have been preaching.
As you already know, the NSCDC is known for its integrity and that, we are not ready to compromise”
Audi, who announced the disbandment of the unit said, “This wicked act must not be allowed to continue because it is not in the interest of the nation as it is tantamount to destroying our collective wealth. The war against oil thieves and economic saboteurs cannot be compromised because oil is the mainstay of our economy”.
Lamenting that power and telecommunication Installations have also been under constant threat and attacks , the NSCDC boss said the activities of vandals and illegal bunkers have wreaked havoc on power and telecommunication installations/facilities, oil pipelines, railway tracks, bridge railings, critical aviation infrastructure, gas Installations, schools, hospitals, industries, roads among others.
Without sounding immodest, Audi who vowed to reverse the ugly trend, urged his officers to either sit up or resign if unwilling to work in line with his vision to salvage the nation’s dwindling economy.
To match his promise with result, Audi vowed to reverse the ugly trend, as it charged its personnel to sit up and thus, salvage the nation’s dwindling economy. The no-nonsense CG took the stern decision barely a week after he summoned zonal, states commandants and heads of all Anti- vandal units to an emergency meeting where he spat fire, threatening to sack them if they fail to redeem the Corps hard earned image by nipping the menace oil theft in the bud.
While threatening to without apology use the hammer on any personnel involved in compromise of oil theft , he said, ‘If you join the corps to make money by cooperating with oil thieves, we urge you to resign.
He said, “It appears some elements in the system are working to draw the Corps backward. It is unfortunate and highly disgraceful for any officer of the law who ought to be custodian of Integrity, truth and justice to be seen negotiating and extorting money from the citizens they are meant to protect.
He however threatened to adopt its internal disciplinary mechanism to address the situation and bring the perpetrators to book as the Corps will never tolerate any acts or conducts capable of jeopardising public interest as well as its mandate CNAI
“Any officer caught in violation of the Corps Standard Operating Procedure and Code of Ethics would be decisively dealt with irrespective of rank, status or nativity”, the CG assured.
He reaffirm the Corps’ commitment to salvaging the nation from economic saboteurs carting away the nation’s crude oil and other Petroleum products.
Barely a week after making the promises and threats, the CG swung into action and commissioned 8 gunboats in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and 93 vehicles. The equipment, according to him will enable them wage a full scale war against oil theft, protect the nation’s commonwealth and improving government’s revenue in this sector. It will ease their mobility, movement of logistics and combat maneuvers on land /water.
Audi cited a report where a startling revelation was made that “Of the 141 million barrels of oil produced in the 1st quarter of year 2022, only 132 million barrels of oil were received at export terminals, with over nine million barrels of oil being lost to crude oil theft.
The CG who promised to lead his men to do more exploits revealed that in 2021 alone, they have arrested a total of 503 vandals , prosecuted 481, secured 122 convictions as well as destryed 79 illegal refineries
Audi’s commendable action is coming barely one week after the group chief executive officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, made a shocking revelation that stolen crude oil products are stored in places of worship such as churches and mosques.
This was as he lamented that the phenomenon had become widespread, permeating several aspects of society.
Kyari disclosed this when he appeared at the 49th Session of the State House Briefing organised by the Presidential communications team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, “the NNPC operatives discovered that stolen petroleum products are stored in places of worship with the consent of the clergy, members, and neighbours.
He revealed that at least 295 illegal connections were spotted on a 200km stretch of pipeline in one instance.
“As you may be aware, because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines from Atlas Cove all the way to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37
Recall also that the group managing director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, had explained at a function that ‘the corporation lost about N51.207 billion between 2019 to May 2021’. He added that from January-May 2021, NNPC pipeline segments suffered 203 pipeline breaks with a total cumulative loss of 39 million litres amounting to N5.973bn.
Also, Nigeria is losing about 108,000 barrels of crude theft daily from state-linked production. In fact, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to a report, said Nigeria lost 2.3 million barrels in July alone and 28 million barrels in total from between January – July, 2022.
In fact, OPEC lamented bitterly that continuous oil theft and vandalisation of pipelines have as a matter of fact, made the nation incapable of meeting the assigned production quota of 1.8mbpd.
The international organisation particularly said Nigeria lost $1 billion to crude theft in first quarter of 2022