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Reps query N5.6bn NNPC pipelines protection contracts

By The Citizen
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House of Representatives on Wednesday queried the N5.6bn contracts the Federal Government awards yearly to protect petroleum products pipelines.

It said the contracts awarded through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation violated the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps Act 2007, by usurping the functions of the agency.

A lawmaker from Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Robinson Uwak, who moved the motion, noted that by awarding the contracts to private firms, the duties of the NSCDC had been undermined.

Uwak noted that Section 3(I) (e) of the Act specifically gave the agency the responsibility of maintaining 24-hour surveillance over pipelines.

He added that the contracts were not only a duplication of expenditure but also that the operations of the NSCDC could be strengthened using the money.

Part of the motion reads, 'The NSCDC Act states that it shall maintain 24-hour surveillance over infrastructure, sites and projects of federal, state and local governments.

'That the NSCDC has powers to arrest without a warrant, detain, investigate and institute legal proceedings against any person, who is reasonably suspected to have committed an offence under this Act or is involved in any power transmission lines, or oil pipelines, NIPOST cables, equipment, water board pipes or equipment vandalism.'

Uwak told the House that despite this provision, the government was using the NNPC to spend N5.6bn on contracts to protect pipelines annually.

Rather than being allowed to perform their statutory duties, he alleged that officers of the security outfit were regularly mobilised to 'locations and operations not covered by the NSCDC Act, as it denigrates the corps and officers'.

He observed that the contracts awarded to private concerns were in conflict with the 1999 Constitution, noting that the procedure encouraged waste.

Uwak said, 'The huge sums of money spent in servicing the pipeline contracts could be invested in funding the NSCDC to enable the corps to carry out its statutory function rather than giving the money to a private firm in violation of the law and a condition that could compromise national security.'

Lawmakers endorsed the motion at Wednesday's sitting, which was presided over by the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal.

The House also mandated the committees on Interior, National Security/Intelligence and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to investigate the matter and produce a report within four weeks.