FG steps up oil theft probe, begins prosecution 

Abuja—The Federal Government has stepped up its probe into the massive crude oil theft in the Niger Delta, as all those found guilty are going to face prosecution, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has said.

It said the oil company was also working with security agencies and the private firm contracted to carry out pipeline surveillance in the oil-rich region.

Punch reports that in August, it was reported that the Federal Government awarded a pipeline surveillance contract worth N48bn per annum to a firm run by Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, to curb the massive oil theft in the Niger Delta.

Within two months after the contract was awarded, Ekpemupolo announced the discovery of at least 58 illegal points in Delta and Bayelsa states where crude oil was being stolen.

The former leader of the militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, told journalists recently in Delta State that a 4km illegal oil pipeline was discovered in the Forcados area of the state.

“I think we have found over 58 points that have been tapped in both Delta and Bayelsa states. We are doing this work together with the security agencies. We are only providing intelligence for the security people to assist to do the work,” he reportedly stated.

When told about the discoveries by Tompolo and asked if the Federal Government would probe the theft and punish those responsible, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC Limited, Garba-Deen Muhammad, said culprits would be prosecuted.

“Since it is a breach against the law, whether on pipelines or not, the law will certainly take its course. But it is not NNPC that will handle that aspect,” he stated.
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Muhammad added, “It is the law itself, the GCEO (Group Chief Executive Officer) said it on site when he visited the areas. He said when these people are found the law will take its course.”

On whether the oil firm had instituted a probe into the menace, the GGM replied, “Since the GCEO has spoken about it, you don’t need anybody to say anything else about it. You can use that as the final statement from the NNPC.”

Muhammed was referring to the statement of the NNPC GCEO, Mele Kyari, at a recent meeting in Abuja, where he (Kyari) said the oil firm had embarked on a series of interventions to tackle the crime.

Kyari had said, “I’m happy to say that the interventions that we have seen in terms of the security measures we have taken, in collaboration with the government security agencies, with the private surveillance and security contractors, and the investments that we have done, we believe that in the next couple of days we will be able to bring back the Trans Niger Pipeline.”

The TNP has been shut down for several months due to crude oil theft on the line.
But on his part, the former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr. Sam Nzekwe, said the pipeline contract would help curb oil theft and was in order.

He said, “It is not that our security agencies are not working, but the fact is that this man (Tompolo) is from the grassroots and understands the area more than the security officers. That is he has been able to see where these activities happen.

“He has more intelligence and that is why he’s making progress this fast. He knows the terrain better than those who were securing it in the past. So I think it is a good development because our desire is to stop oil theft.

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