The Federal Government has activated strategies to curb oil theft and pipeline vandalism, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said. He said the Joint Task Force (JTF), comprising security officers from all the relevant security agencies, had shown great commitment to the eradication of illegal artisanal refineries in the Niger- Delta region.
According to him, operators of illegal refineries and their collaborators were responsible for about 25 per cent of stolen crude. Malami, according to a statement by the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, disclosed this in New York at the Nigeria International Partnership Forum with the theme, ‘Scaling up International Economic Partnerships for Nigeria in a Post COVID-19 World.’
The forum was organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the African Business Roundtable, an offshoot of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly 2022.
The minister also said the Federal Government was spending stupendous re- sources on pipeline surveillance security through the regular Armed Forces budgetary spending and payments to civilian security companies under unique Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.
The minister said the Federal Government under President Buhari was aggressively cracking down on crude oil theft with a view to lifting investors’ confidence; mitigate attacks on terminals and the country’s territorial waters. He stated that the challenge encountered in prosecuting suspects had been overcome with the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act, 2019, which provides legal backing for the prosecution and punishment of offenders.
He said: “The office of Attorney-General of the Federation remains, committed to the effective prosecution of all crude oil Theft and related cases, including High-Profile ones.
On a similar note, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is equally currently prosecuting hundreds of cases bordering on oil theft. All of these show a serious resolve by the Nigerian Government to punish offenders.
“The Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria had also taken operational and strategic measures to deal with the challenge through the signing into Law of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 (PIA) after several years of Legislative processing and cycles of review.
“The PIA, which seeks to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, is one of the most audacious attempts to overhaul the Petroleum sector in Nigeria.
“New specialised entities such as the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPR) with clear mandates and statutory powers to handle specific responsibilities in their respective spheres of regulatory influence, were created under the PIA, among other innovations aimed at improving the Nigerian Oil and Gas landscape.”
Malami added: “As recent as August 13, 2022, the NNPC Ltd launched an application, ‘Crude Theft Monitoring Application,’ to check oil theft.
The NUPRC is also determined to tackle the menace through technology with the use of Lease Automatic Custody Transfer (LACT) meters to check the flow and pressure rates and to generally improve measuring capabilities.”