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Posted On

11
October
2022

Crude Oil Theft: Clark Calls For Judicial Inquiry

Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has called for the setting up of a judicial inquiry into the crude oil theft that has led to dwindling revenue for the nation and sabotaging its economy.

He made the call at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday against the background of the recent discovery of kilometres-long illegal oil pipeline delivering crude to rouge vessels in a platform on the high seas.

He said the discovery was a confirmation of what the Niger Deltans have been saying about high-level complicity in crude oil theft in the region.

The foremost Ijaw leader maintained that the quantum of crude oil theft by artisinal Niger Deltans is not comparable to what the vessels illegally ship out of Nigerian waters.

He said: “The news that there is an illicit four kilometres pipeline, through which crude oil is being siphoned, goes to confirm what I have always said over the years, and what the leaders of the Niger Delta have been shouting about, that the issue of oil theft is being perpetuated by some mafia-like groups, with the connivance of some people in the oil industry, using sophisticated engineering methods to carry out their nefarious act.

“Even, more disturbing is that these activities have been going on over the years under the watchful eyes of the military and security personnel; security personnel who are supposed to be protecting these oil pipelines with the large numbers of gunboats to patrol the area, are unfortunately alleged to be involved in these criminal acts.

“The host communities, from where these oil explorations are carried out, but who are victims of the activities, since they cannot dictate to the oil companies and security officials, have always raised the alarm that the quantum of oil theft going on, is nothing compared to what the artisanal refinery operators are doing.

“What is going on, is a sophisticated criminal act, carried out by a syndicate. The investigation to this matter must be full, open and comprehensive if there is sincerity to unravel what is going on.”

While noting that the heist was discovered by the private security company, Tantita Security Services Limited, operated by Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and the community youths he recruited, he said the probe must uncover those behind it, especially the military personnel.

The former federal Commissioner affirmed that the recent conviction by a court martial of two Naval officer over bunkering vessel, MT African Pride, confirmed the involvement of the military.

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Crude Oil Theft: Clark Calls For Judicial Inquiry
• Accuses military of complicity
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By Leon Usigbe – Abuja On Oct 11, 2022

Edwin Clark
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Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has called for the setting up of a judicial inquiry into the crude oil theft that has led to dwindling revenue for the nation and sabotaging its economy.

He made the call at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday against the background of the recent discovery of kilometres-long illegal oil pipeline delivering crude to rouge vessels in a platform on the high seas.

He said the discovery was a confirmation of what the Niger Deltans have been saying about high-level complicity in crude oil theft in the region.

The foremost Ijaw leader maintained that the quantum of crude oil theft by artisinal Niger Deltans is not comparable to what the vessels illegally ship out of Nigerian waters.

He said: “The news that there is an illicit four kilometres pipeline, through which crude oil is being siphoned, goes to confirm what I have always said over the years, and what the leaders of the Niger Delta have been shouting about, that the issue of oil theft is being perpetuated by some mafia-like groups, with the connivance of some people in the oil industry, using sophisticated engineering methods to carry out their nefarious act.

“Even, more disturbing is that these activities have been going on over the years under the watchful eyes of the military and security personnel; security personnel who are supposed to be protecting these oil pipelines with the large numbers of gunboats to patrol the area, are unfortunately alleged to be involved in these criminal acts.

“The host communities, from where these oil explorations are carried out, but who are victims of the activities, since they cannot dictate to the oil companies and security officials, have always raised the alarm that the quantum of oil theft going on, is nothing compared to what the artisanal refinery operators are doing.

“What is going on, is a sophisticated criminal act, carried out by a syndicate. The investigation to this matter must be full, open and comprehensive if there is sincerity to unravel what is going on.”

While noting that the heist was discovered by the private security company, Tantita Security Services Limited, operated by Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and the community youths he recruited, he said the probe must uncover those behind it, especially the military personnel.

The former federal Commissioner affirmed that the recent conviction by a court martial of two Naval officer over bunkering vessel, MT African Pride, confirmed the involvement of the military.

“The two senior officers appear to have got off lightly without being sent to jail. All the same, the court martial’s verdict constituted a harsh indictment of the navy itself. For the first time ever, it provided official confirmation of long-held suspicions that top Navy officers were deeply involved in bunkering,” he stated.

He further said: “Crude oil theft is definitely part of the universal corruption that is killing Nigeria. The Federal and State Governments do not seriously tackle the issue of eradication of corruption in our country. The stealing is not only done through pipelines; both onshore and underwater, and even the oil terminals where the export of crude oil is carried out.

“Another thing we discovered later, is that apart from these Government officials at the oil terminal and the international oil company officials, there is a military cabal, very much involved in the theft of oil. I observed from my own investigations, that some military officers, cutting across all ranks, lobby their way through to be posted to Niger-Delta, in order to be involved in the stealing of oil, and this is indeed very dangerous.”

Clark, who is also the leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum (SMBLF), alleged discrimination against the people of the Niger Delta even in the investigation of the recent discovery as he claimed that the oil industry had continued to be dominated by northerners

He added: “When the revelation was made, some government officials and some heads of security arms, embarked on a visit to the creeks to see for themselves, the discovery. In the team that embarked on the visit, apart from the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and the Managing Director of Tantita Security Services Limited, Keston Pondi, the other government officials interviewed are from the northern part of the country.

“This brings to fore, once again, the marginalisation and neglect of the people of the Niger Delta. We, therefore, once again, demand that these people, who have been dominating the oil industry, may need to explain why these nefarious acts have been going on for this long in the Niger Delta.

“The investigation into this matter, which have been affecting the national economy so badly, must uncover all government officials including the military, top officials of the NNPCL and their collaborators, who have inflicted such magnitude of harm on the country, and on the Niger Delta communities, endangering the life and well being of the people of the oil-bearing communities, they live largely in opulence on the blood of the people of the communities that produce the oil.

“It is dangerously incredible that crude oil theft, despite all the securities around, has assumed wider dimension, to the extent that the quantity of crude oil we export today is less than the quantity being stolen by a gang of thieves of various designations.

“The stealing of crude oil is a well-managed cartel of government officials, the oil companies and the security agents.

“Therefore, it is unfair and unjust to accuse the inhabitants of the oil-producing areas or host communities, of being responsible for the stealing of crude oil.

“While not defending these host communities, the stealing of crude oil being carried out by these group of individuals, are very minimal or negligible, as compared with the industrial stealing by some international organisations, in collaboration with some members of the security forces.

“The host communities of the Niger Delta people are not involved in the marketing and the lifting of oil of this magnitude. Today, the people of the Niger Delta, are among the poorest people in the country. This cannot continue forever.

“Due to my constant criticism against the federal government and the NNPCL on the operation of the oil industry in the Niger Delta, and my consistently drawing the attention of the federal government and the NNPCL, about the employment policy in the oil industry, whereby majority of the workers, particularly at the managerial cadres, are northerners, I have been singled out and branded an enemy of the federal government and as an anti-north, and not to be patronized by the government.”

While asserting that he was not defending Niger Delta youths over bunkering, Clark argued: “It is now clear that the impression that the massive oil stealing is being perpetrated mostly by the Niger Delta youths, was deliberately created by the oil industry officials to cover their criminal acts.

“Now, by the grace of God, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo)’s security company, Tantita Security Services Limited, has found out the truth. The refusal of the oil companies and the NNPCL to engage the youths of the Niger Delta, even though they are qualified, is responsible for their finding a way of survival by engaging in bunkering.

“As I always said, they do not do the sophisticated type of bunkering. They do what I called buckets or jerry cans bunkering. None of them can hire a boat like the MT African Pride from abroad, for the purpose of stealing; they could make their own local boats.”

He cited instances where he said Niger Delta youths were ignored in recruitment in the oil industry in favour of northerners, saying: “For instance, in a lecture I gave at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), I said that our youths, young graduates who attend National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), in faraway places, outside their own state, who return home at the end of their one-year national service, return home to joblessness, despite the fact that there are companies operating in their area and communities.

“Whereas, their counterparts from other parts of Nigeria, who are posted to the Niger Delta, at the end of the one year, are retained by the oil companies, because the management positions are occupied by their people. So, they get employed, while our boys and girls return home without jobs.

“These jobless boys have nothing to do, have nothing to live and survive. I had stated a case before in 1986, in Warri, there was a fight between some of these Niger Delta youths and the security forces at the Warri Airport. At that time the airport was a narrow strip along the Airport Road, Warri. What happened when I got there, was that, I saw that two of the boys had been shot dead by the security forces. What was the problem?

“The Niger Delta youths said that they were told that one of the overseas oil companies was recruiting divers and swimmers from outside the Niger Delta, and these recruits, were being carried in helicopter to the Escravos and to the Forcados terminals. The youths protested, saying that they were available to be recruited, adding that they are natural swimmers and divers, yet they were
not being employed, rather, the companies go outside the region, to employ people, who even have to be taught how to swim and how to dive.

“That was the arrangement of things and that was responsible for the fight.

“There was another case where the Niger Delta youths have been short-changed and discriminated against in their own home, by the NNPC officials in Warri. One day, I was forced to visit the Warri Refinery to see things for myself and I thought I was in Kaduna because majority of the boys were wearing babariga dress, with northern caps, speaking the Hausa language.

“Majority of the northerners were full staff of the corporation, while most of the southerners were temporary and casual staff. The northern staff were put over and above the southern staff that are permanent and they were paid more

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