Abuja - Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta says crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region will continue until the Federal Government begins to prosecute the eminent personalities involved in it.
Uduaghan, who is Chairman, National Economic Council on Crude Oil Theft (NECCOT), stated this Tuesday in his presentation at the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) Conference 2014 in Abuja.
The governor canvassed for collaboration with the international community to end the ugly trend.
He expressed concern at the high rate of oil theft, saying over 80 per cent of the stolen crude oil from the country was being sold in the international oil market.
Uduaghan said his committee believed in prosecuting those linked to oil theft in order to reduce the scope of theft.
“We need the political will to get the big players in the oil theft ring and prosecute them.”
“By the time we start serious prosecution of these people, the oil theft will reduce,” he said.
The governor, who expressed regrets that small-time oil thieves were being arrested by security agents, wondered why the big players in the business were being left untouched.
He said the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) had little or nothing to do with oil theft, saying “the challenge is a Nigerian problem that needs a Nigerian solution”.
The governor said most often those arrested were always taken to the wrong courts and that this was why they were usually left off the hook easily.
“We don’t need to wait for the PIB. There are laws for the prosecution of oil thieves.”
“All we need to do is to get all the cases right and ensure that they are tried in the right courts.”
“The problem we are having is that cases have been going to the wrong courts,” he said.
The NECCOT chairman also said the country required international collaboration to discourage the patronage of stolen crude oil.
“We need international collaboration to reduce arms shipped into the country and which are used for oil theft. The arms used by these people are manufactured abroad,” he said.
The governor said there has to be an improved security programme to address all the challenges, saying they require a lot of facilities.
“That means a lot of money has to be spent on sophisticated surveillance equipment. We need helicopters that will make you fly day and night.”
“Also, the technology in the case of the pipelines has to be looked into and improved upon. For example, the pipelines should be buried deeper into the ground and should have censors,” he said.
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