The federal government has commissioned eight gunboats to fight crude oil theft, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the country to a logical end.
A press statement by the spokesman of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Olusola Odumosu on Tuesday said “in her resolve to end the menace of crude oil theft, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the nation, the Federal Government through the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has commissioned eight NSCDC gunboats to wage a full scale war against the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”
He noted that the move became necessary to strengthen the combative capacity of NSCDC Anti Vandalism Squad in stemming the tide of huge revenue loss to the Federal Government in the oil sector.
Aregbesola, while performing the official inauguration of the gunboats in Port Harcourt, described the incidences of oil theft as an organized crime ridding the nation of accrued revenue running to million of dollars annually.
The Minister of Interior, said the country in recent past had recorded various occurrences of crude oil theft and reports has shown that the country loses million of dollars daily such 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; the aftermath results further reveal that over 9 million barrels of oil was lost to crude oil theft.
He decried the negative impacts of crude oil theft and oil pipeline vandalism in the nation.
He however called on all security agencies to shun Inter-agency rivalries and synergize by supporting the fight against oil theft in order to salvage and rid the nation’s economy of saboteurs.
The Minister further maintained that the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps as the lead agency in Safeguarding Critical National Assets and Infrastructure is mandated to use the available logistics provided by the Government to reduce crime rate and by extension take the war against crude oil theft to the camp of the enemies.
The NSCDC Commandant General, Dr Ahmed Audi, while extolling the role of Government in the provision of necessary logistics to enhance the fight against oil pipeline vandalism across the nation, affirmed that the eight newly commissioned gunboats will boost the morale of the Corps in combating the menace of crude oil theft along the waterways.
He said: “The NSCDC is generally expected to effectively safeguard Critical Infrastructure and oil installations which are very central and vital to the socio-economic development of the nation.
“The Corps is saddled with the mandate to guard against oil theft, illegal oil bunkering through the provision of physical security to oil pipelines against vandalism.
“Therefore, any threat to the oil and gas sector is automatically considered as a high security concern owing to the debilitating effects it has on national development.”
He added that: “It also constitute environmental degradation, pollution, destruction of land and aquatic life, loss of means of livehood and drastic reduction in the inflow of foreign exchange needed to bolster the economy of the nation.”
He affirmed that a marching order has been issued to all Zonal Commanders, State Commandants and Heads of Antivandal Unit across formations to be battle ready with a renewed vigour to stamp out oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the nation.
The CG reiterated the Corps’ determination and unwavering commitment to the war against illegal oil bunkering and assured the Government and the entire nation that the Gunboats would be distributed to states in the coastal region as the corps continue to collaborate with the military and other security agencies.
He enjoined Nigerians to assist security agencies in winning the war against the enemies of the nation by volunteering credible Intelligence and Information that could lead to possible arrest and prosecution of oil pipeline vandals and saboteurs of the nation’s economy.