Blame Nigerian Army, Naval, Airforce Chiefs for not prosecuting officers aiding oil theft
By Rita Esegine
Petroleum and natural gas workers association on Tuesday in Abuja, said that its teeming members will be unleashed on the street for a rally against the seemingly inability of government to hold accountable and prosecute oil theft perpetrators in the country.
The workers under the umbrella of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said the rally will commenece by 9am in the streets of Abuja, Kaduna, Lagos and Warri simultaneously.
PENGASSAN National President, Festus Osifo, when he briefed journalists on the development, also stated why the union decided to embark on street rally. He went on to call on the Nigerian Arm, Navy and Airforce to prosecute and jail their officers who are conniving with criminals to perpetrate the crime.
Specifically, Osifo hinted that Nigerians and particularly their members are tremendously affected by the menace of oil theft, as oil companies are retrenching workers as a result of incessant losses they incur due to the theft of the product.
His words, “Government must develop the muscles and political will to go after oil thieves.
“The GMD of NNPC last week said that every body is involved in the oil theft. Every body he meant are the security agencies, some oil and gas workers, host communities and some other Nigerians.
“So it is a total collusion and connival. That means that security agencies cannot be excepted from the ongoing oil theft.”
Osifo further said; “We learn few days ago that the Chief of Naval Staff made some beautiful statement, but this issue is beyond a statement. It is beyond blame games. As a Chief of Naval Staff, you send people to Niger Delta to go and mand the water ways but the grude oil are still being stolen on a daily bases on the same water ways.
“Maybe at best, out the 10 vessels that are stolen, you bring only one and said you have caught the people stealing oil, what then happened to the rest? So the rythorics must stop. This is the time for us to act.”
Also, he said: “Nigerian security men and women now struggle and lobby to go to the Niger Delta to protect oil pipe lines and water ways. Yet while they are there, vessels are being stolen every day. Looking at the senerio, yoy can only imagine what really is the motive. Obvious the collusion to theft oil is there and it must stop.
“Government must wake up and there must be consequences to the management of grude oil security. You cannot send Naval, officers, men and women of Nigeria Army and Civil Defence officers to the creeks of Niger Delta and you don’t development a mechanism to hold them accountable.
“Accountability is key. When you send people to a terminal and oil are being stolen there, how many of the people in that terminal are prosecuted and send to jail? If there is no consequences to the management, there won’t be solution.
“So we call on the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval and Airforce to hold the soldiers and officers they send to protect the waterways and pipelines accountable and any one that is found guilty should be send to prison for the purpose of deterrent.”
He added, “What we are saying is that there is total connival and collusion in the oil theft menace in Nigeria. And that the talks must end while actions must be taken.
“After this calls and nothing serious is done to end the criminality by government, we may be forced to withdraw our work force from the operating companies.
“Some of the oil theft perpetrators even go as far as calling our members on phone and threaten them. So the life of our members are at risk.
“We can no longer condole this. Government must sit up. The fact is that those who perpetrate this criminal act are not children but big men, because the equipment you need to vandalize a pipeline is so sophisticated that you must have access to enough money to obtain it.
“So we are warning that if this continue and government refuse to bring those responsible to book, we will be left with no choice than to withdraw our members from production.
“Government is not being responsive to do what it ought to do, government is not showing the required political will to fight this criminality, we will withdraw our members and let the country run aground.
“We can no longer sit watch people who does not know how this oil is produced steal and sell and become millionaire in dollars over night. We can longer sit and watch our members lose their jobs.”