FG Floats Legal Task Force To Tackle Oil Thieves
SAN FRANCISCO, July 18, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government has approved the establishment of a Legal Task Force (LTF) to tackle the increasing rate of oil theft in the country.
The National Executive Council (NEC) meeting which held on Thursday and presided over by Vice President Muhammadu Namadi Sambo gave approval for the establishment of the LTF to tackle the loss of about 400,000 barrels of oil per day, which translates to N7 billion per day.
The Task Force is to be headed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN.'
The meeting also discussed the issue of grazing reserves and Fulani/farmers clash. It also updated report on the 2012/2014 Federal and State borrowing as well as issues relating to Almajiri education.
Disclosing this after the meeting was the Delta State governor ,Emmanuel Uduaghan, who is also the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Oil Theft Proliferation and Control, which is made up of the representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Armed Forces, Civil Defence, Police, the State Security Service (SSS) and others.
He said the establishment of the LTF was informed by the need to not only arrest the oil thieves but prosecute them as well.
Members of the Task Force are to be sworn in on Monday and they are expected to operate for 12 months.
Uduaghan stated that the LTF will look at ways of enforcing the extant laws which stipulates 21 years imprisonment without option of fine for oil thieves, saying “we need to prosecute offenders otherwise they will continue to steal oil.”
He noted that President Goodluck Jonathan is so passionate about tackling the menace of oil theft and has created lots of avenues to deal with it.
He said NEC has mandated the governments of Bayelsa and Rivers State to hold meetings with Joint Task Force (JTF), international oil companies (IOCs) and stakeholders to ensure the opening of oil pipelines which have been shut.
He expressed concern that Shell alone was losing 300,000 bpd due to the shutdown of its operations in Bayelsa and Rivers States, saying “as Shell does more repairs, the thieves go back and do more damage, so NEC decided that the two pipelines should be opened.”
According to Uduaghan, “ The Committee has moved to address the issue of the 400, 000 barrels per day production shortfall. The Governors of Bayelsa and Delta have been mandated to meet with the concerned oil majors and the JTF to work out modalities for the effective repair of the Nembe and Trans Niger pipelines which are currently shut.
“The Committee also mandated Akwa Ibom governor, Obong Godswill Akpabio, Secretary to National Planning Commission, the NEITI chief executive and a representative of the Inspector-General of Police to meet with the Attorney-General of the Federation towards strengthening the extant deterrence policy by ensuring more arrests and convictions of the oil thieves.”
On facilities from funding agencies , Gombe State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwabo, who is the chairman of the NEC Ad-hoc Committee on the 2012/2013 Federal/State Governments Borrowing Plans, said a $300m housing facility approved by the National Assembly is available to interested States and Local Governments.
Dankwambo, who explained that 10 states have so far indicated interest in the facility, added that in the interim, NEC has advised that states should articulate their needs and report back at the next meeting.
On the issue of grazing reserves, Adamawa State governor, Alhaji Murtala Nyako, said NEC “underscored the need for the nation to pay more attention to food security as a means of boosting national production and the well-being of the people.”
He however suggested that instead of grazing reserves, cattle should have ‘green field’ for adequate productivity, saying cows should be fed in their stables and grazing reserves should be re-cultivated with improved varieties of grass.
He also advocated that more water bodies including irrigation and potable water should be developed to enable cattle rearers settle.
The Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, stated that 80 schools have so far been built for Almajiri education nationwide as part of the effort towards addressing the problem of the high number of out-of-school children.