By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT: CHAIRMAN, Ogoni Council of Paramount Rulers, Ogoni, Rivers State, High Chief Barisi Kpaama, has raised the alarm over the menace of oil thieves in his domain and other parts of Niger Delta region, alleging that some security chiefs were aiding and abetting the criminals.
He spoke as the Zonal Director, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Port Harcourt, Cyrus Nkangwung, blamed the rise in oil bunkering in the oil-rich region on the unavailability of petroleum products at the rural communities.
Security chiefs have compromised – Kpaama
Kpaama and NOSDRA at a roundtable by the National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills, NAGGOND, to seek sustainable alternatives to oil theft and artisanal refining further noted that corruption among security agencies was also energizing the menace in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “The heads of security agencies in the communities involved in artisanal refining have compromised and are abetting the culprits, therefore, they should be disciplined to serve as a deterrent to the locals.
“If the DPO and JTF Commander are in support of the boys carrying out the theft, who are you to go against them?” He asserted.
Stop destroying illegally refined products – NOSDRA director
Nkangwung said: “Investigations shows that there is no presence of government or access to the products in the rural communities, they do not even have where to get kerosene or diesel from, whereas the illegally refined products are accessible and cheaper.”
“Security agencies should not destroy the illegally refined products alongside the environment. It is a good thing that the government is now building tank farms to store the recovered products rather than burning them and further polluting the environment,” he asserted.
It’s shameful Nigeria still import oil – Prof Naanee
Meanwhile, University of Port-Harcourt don, Prof. Ben Naanee, said: “It is sad that after 50 years, we (Nigerians) are still importing oil, we have failed to harness the large ECOWAS market.
“It will not be impossible to stop the theft and illegal refining unless government provides alternatives and address the issues of accessibility of petroleum products in the rural communities and also reducing its prices making it affordable.”