…Seeks Severe Sanctions For Culprits
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Saturday, called on President Bola Tinubu to set up an independent panel to unravel the unending mystery surrounding oil theft in Nigeria and probe oil bunkering and allied crimes, especially from 2015 till date.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the government must not spare the culprits identified at the end of the probe but name and shame them and sanction them severely.
The group’s call comes hours after the allegations by prominent Niger Delta leader and former agitator, Mujahid Asari Dokubo, who accused the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Navy of being culpable of oil theft in the oil-rich Niger Delta area.
Dokubo, who met the President on Friday at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, said, “The military is at the centre of oil theft and we have to make this very clear to the Nigerian public that 99 per cent of oil theft can be traced to the Nigerian military, the Army and the Navy especially.”
“The Army and Navy are behind oil theft. They intimidate civil defence, who are by law expected to protect installations. They tap directly from the oil head. What has been happening in the last eight years is unprecedented anywhere in the world.
“The livelihood of the people is being destroyed. The main culprits are the army and navy. There are notorious army commanders who are known to be the ones behind oil bunkering,” the former militant stated.
The Nigerian Army has since responded to the allegations, saying it has been vigorously engaged in the fight against illegal oil bunkering, oil theft, illegal oil refining and other sundry crimes in the region with positive results.
Also, the Nigerian Navy has challenged Dokubo to produce the names of officers involved in crude oil theft.
In its reaction, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The allegations by Dokubo are startling and damning and these allegations must be thoroughly investigated.
“We ask that the President set up an seven-man independent panel of criminologists drawn from reputable global fora to investigate the larger cases of crude oil thefts from 2015-2023.
“The panel should identify, prosecute and sanction culprits in the severest of mechanisms and recover to the last dollar public funds diverted through those stolen crude oil by these rogues no matter their statuses.
“Also, Dokubo who made the allegations must provide irrefutable evidence or be prosecuted for providing false information which is a criminal offence.”
Oil theft has become a malignant cancer in Nigeria for years. Last October, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited said it uncovered an illegal oil connection from Forcados Terminal that operated for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period.
Similarly, former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo said about 58 illegal oil points have been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began.
In April, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative revealed that Nigeria lost 619.7 million barrels of crude oil valued at N16.25tn to crude oil theft between 2009 and 2020.
June 17, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA),