Abuja - The Senate President, Chief David Mark, on Wednesday said that the Senate would not hesitate to endorse death penalty for illegal bunkering and oil theft in the country.
Mark gave the assurance while inaugurating the Senate Joint Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in Abuja.
The committee comprises the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Gas, Petroleum (Downstream) and Petroleum (Upstream)
The Chairman of the committee is Sen. Dahiru Umaru while Sen. Emmanuel Paulker (Petroleum- Upstream), is to serve as Co-chairman.
Mark decried the increasing level of theft of Nigeria’s oil resources, saying the law should provide for severe sanctions to serve as deterrent.
"We are having a bad name internationally because of the rate of oil theft in the country. Oil theft deserves capital punishment.
"The law must have a huge punishment on those that steal our oil to serve as a deterrent to other people who plan to participate in the illegal act.
"If it's the public wish I will endorse a death penalty for oil thieves if it will stop oil theft and bunkering.
"Its an unusual situation, so it deserves an unusual remedy and drastic punishment," he said
Mark said that contrary to suspicions by some Nigerians, the PIB would engender transparency and growth in the petroleum industry.
He said the bill was designed to ensure that operations in the Nigerian oil industry conformed to international best practises as obtainable in other major petroleum producing countries.
"Nigerians are patriotic enough to know that what we are doing is in the best interest of all Nigerians.
"The bill, as it stands today, is to ensure a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
"This bill must show transparency in the oil industry so that investors will come and get returns on their investment."
Dahiru in his response, pledged that the joint committee would conduct its assignment in the interest of Nigerians.
He called on Nigerians with expertise in the operations of the petroleum industry to forward relevant ideas to the committee to further enrich the bill.
The joint committee is expected to submit its report within six weeks from the date of its first sitting.