By Emma Amaize
WARRI- THE Centre for the Vulnerable and Underprivileged, CENTREP, Warri, Delta State, weekend, differed with the Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Delta, Navy Commodore Aliyu Sule, that slow pace of adjudication was a major cause of oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
Executive Director of the group, Mr Oghenejabor Ikimi, in a statement, said, “We say that the high level of connivance by security agents serving in the region with oil thieves in the area and not the slow pace of adjudication in our law courts as suggested by the Naval boss is the major factor for oil bunkering.”
It, however, agreed with the commander that impunity was a contributing factor to persistent oil bunkering.
The group said, “We believe that it is almost impossible for a country like Nigeria to be losing a whopping amount of 30 million barrels of crude oil per day to oil thieves without the connivance of top politicians from the area and security personnel.”
CENTREP stated that officials of the Army, Navy, Airforce, Police and the Department of Security Services, saddled with the responsibility of providing security in the area were aiding and abetting oil thieves.
“Little wonder, the naval boss claimed in his recent interview with news men that in one of her command’s operation to rid his area of operation of oil thieves, he and his men raided Kantu forest in Delta state twice within a space of three weeks to destroy illegal refineries in the forest.
“The above clearly corroborates the fact that there is connivance in the illicit business between security agents and oil thieves in the area, hence our call on the Federal Government to turn its search lights on all her security agents in the region, including their bank accounts,” the group asserted.
CENTREP suggested, “In the alternative, government should grant operational licenses to interested persons in the area to operate modular refineries to refine crude oil as a way of supporting our ailing four refineries, and to generate income into the Federation Account, and providing employment to her teeming youths in the region.”
“It is worthy of note that many of the oil theft cases that find their way to court are often dead on arrival as they are heavily compromised by security agents,” the group added.