SERAP Urges FG to Publish Names of Oil Thieves

October 17, 2022
names of oil thieves

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has been urged to publish the names of oil thieves “within 14 days” or be dragged before a court to compel it to carry out this action.

This is the demand of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), which expressed worry over the activities of persons suspected to be stealing crude oil belonging to Nigeria.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited recently said it discovered a 4-kilometre pipeline illegally installed for the purpose of siphoning crude oil for exports.

According to the NNPC, two illegal pipelines were used to steal the country’s oil wealth from Forcados Terminal and connected to the 48-inch Trans Forcados Export Trunk line.

In a letter dated October 15, 2022, SERAP called on Mr Buhari to “promptly set up a presidential panel of inquiry to thoroughly, impartially, and transparently investigate the operations of illegal oil pipelines from 2001 to date, and to widely publish the names of anyone suspected to be involved.”

The organisation further said the government must “ensure the prosecution by appropriate anti-corruption agencies of anyone suspected to be responsible for plundering the country’s oil wealth and the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”

SERAP also urged him to “promptly authorise the investigation of reports of the destruction of an oil bunkering vessel by security agencies and to ensure that suspected owners of the vessel are identified, named, and brought to justice.”

In the letter signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the group said: “Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians have continued to pay the price for stealing of the country’s oil wealth apparently by both state and non-state actors.”

“Your government has a legal obligation to ensure that the country’s oil wealth is used solely for the benefit of the Nigerian people, and that the wealth does not end up in private pockets, for the sake of the present and future generations,” SERAP said.

“SERAP is concerned that the illegal pipelines have been operated for many years without notice, implying a flagrant violation of constitutional and international obligations to ensure the proper, effective and efficient management of the country’s wealth and natural resources.

“It is in the public interest to promptly investigate the discovery of the illegal pipelines, publish the names of those suspected to be involved, and ensure that they are brought to justice, and that any proceeds of crime are fully recovered,” it stated.

“As the President and Minister of Petroleum Resources, you and your government have a legal responsibility to ensure accountability for these human rights crimes, and end the culture of impunity, which is fuelling the stealing of the country’s oil wealth.

“The proposed presidential panel of enquiry should be headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, and its members should include people with proven professional records and of the highest integrity that can act impartially, independently, and transparently,” the organisation said.

“The plundering of the country’s oil wealth has resulted in the downward trend in revenue and increasing level of borrowing, with reports of a projected N11.30 trillion deficit budget for 2023.”

“The discovery of the second illegal pipeline followed the recent destruction by security agents of a vessel allegedly used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks. About 58 illegal oil points have reportedly so far been discovered,” SERAP stated.

“According to a Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit report, 160 million barrels of crude oil valued at $13.7 billion was stolen in four years (2009-2012). There is also a report of $17 billion debt of under-declared crude oil lifted by some international oil companies (IOCs) between 2011 and 2014.”

“According to reports, Nigeria has seen increased oil theft in recent years. The country loses 470,000 barrels of crude oil monthly, amounting to $700 million to oil theft.”

“The country has reportedly lost $10 billion to crude oil theft in seven months, which is stated to be more than 50 per cent of Nigeria’s external reserves. The Chatham House, a think-tank based in the United Kingdom, has noted that oil theft in Nigeria is on an industrial scale,” it added.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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