The Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum has called on the Federal Government to device a means of prosecuting persons caught stealingÂ petroleum products from vandalisedÂ pipelines in order to stem the tide ofÂ crude oil theft, estimated at $1.5billion annually.
The Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Abubakar Umar Gada, who frowned at the manner in which some NigeriansÂ conspireÂ with foreigners to burst petroleum pipelines belonging to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)Â to steal products,Â told Sunday VanguardÂ that anyone found culpable in oil theft must beÂ brought to book. This, he said, was the only way to curb oil thieves.
According to him, â€œ Nigeria derives greater percentage of its revenue from oil to run other sectors of the economy. As such, oil theft constitutes a major linkage from the income flow ofÂ governmentâ€.
OnÂ whether the National Assembly has made any law to giveÂ governmentÂ legislative backing to sanctionÂ foreigners whoÂ conspire with Nigerians to rupture the pipelines and siphon products, he said, â€œRight now, the Senate does not have such law but in the near future will do something practically about it.Â Beyond that, oil theft is a criminal offence and anyone found guilty must be made to face the wrath of the law.Â Losing about $1.5 billion yearly to crude oil theft is not good for our economy. Something must be done urgently to address the situation.â€
On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)Â that has been at the National Assembly since 2008, even after it was endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said, â€œthe Bill has passed the first and second readings, but the problem is that new ideas keep coming every day, that is whyÂ the Bill is still in the Senate.