Informed stakeholders of the Niger Delta have sent words to President Bola Tinubu, who, last week, in Abuja, directed Service Chiefs, heads of security, and intelligence agencies to “crush” oil thieves.

The stakeholders are telling him to calm down, study, and discern the real issues before churning out orders.

They said it was not the first time a Nigerian President would be giving such a directive, but the worry is how he expects service chiefs to stop oil thieves when top military officers are among the oil cabal sponsoring illegal oil refining and crude oil theft.

First, the stakeholders said President Tinubu should know that if he truly wants to confront oil theft, he must decide to step on powerful toes.

If Mr. President’s answer is confirmatory, they advised him to identify, expose, and penalize top military officers, including Army, Police, Airforce, DSS, Navy, etc (both serving and retired); Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPCL; International Oil Companies, IOCs; and politicians involved in crude oil theft.

After exposing and punishing the rotten eggs, the President should rejig the security architecture, the stakeholders added.

They also hinted that some highly placed government officials from the Villa where Tinubu governs from colluded with the oil cabal in the past governments.

They said oil thieves use technology to steal crude oil; therefore, the country must apply technology to prevent oil theft, not repairing pipelines after they had breached.

Military chiefs part of the organized crime–James, INC 2nd vice president

The second (2nd) National Vice President, Ijaw National Congress, INC, Chief Nengi James, who is familiar with the issues at stake, told our newsmen: “I will continue to mention it, this crude oil theft is an organized crime by the military, and some political bigwigs.

“In fact, this crime is even more dangerous than the petroleum subsidy. Ships and vessels loaded with crude oil freely go out of the nation’s territory to neighboring countries where they refine it and bring it back to us.

“They are using these local refineries to cover up, the volume of crude used by the local refineries cannot be compared to the ones loaded in vessels and siphoned. The community people are not involved in this organized crime, they are only involved in the surveillance job.

“The major players in this crime are those, who own the vessels, and military chiefs in the Ministry of Defence, Navy, and Army.
“All these coded Operation Pulo Shield, Operation Delta Safe, Joint Task Force, JTF, are just to deceive the people that they are working. Why have they not left the Niger Delta, it is big, enormous organized crime?”

Nengi, who is the national coordinator of the Association of Rural Chiefs for Peace and Development, asserted: “If they really want to change the situation, it is not even the surveillance that they are talking about. Let us not deceive ourselves in this matter, the criminality is top to bottom, they should stop pointing accusing fingers at the community. “

“Why are military officers in the creeks and Niger Delta richer than their own formation? Some have estates and properties. Have you asked yourself why the military has more interest in staying in the Niger Delta than fighting terrorists?

“Anywhere bunkering activity is going on, you will see several patrol vehicles, and checkpoints where they collect bribes. They are even those who are on illegal patrol. They will charter a taxi and be chasing those carrying bunkering products. However, these are the local ones.

“The greatest theft and criminality are in the high seas. That is why the oil companies are divesting and going offshore where they can load freely without monitoring. The security people there only share money; they are not monitoring or securing anything.

“The government should investigate and probe all the military personnel in the Niger Delta. They should explain how they came about the properties they gain every day.

“How can a junior officer be sharing money with his commander? Because there is no discipline, and everybody is sharing the booty. They share money and live above their income from the sea to the Defense Headquarters.

“This military personnel should be monitored, something like policing the security personnel, and you will see properties that will be recovered.”

Deal with the cabal severely–Kokori, ex-NUPENG scribe

Former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori, said: “The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, but Nigeria presidents have not been serious, they handle security issues with kid gloves.

“There are many corrupt elements in the security agencies; we only have less than 20 to 25 percent of good Nigerians in the security agencies that are patriotic.

“Tinubu is going to face them, and like the oil cartel and subsidy that have been wasting our money; he should be able to tackle them.

“There is a cabal, I am not a security man, the security people know who the cabals are; they know them. The cartel is powerful, and the government knows them. It is just that people like former President Muhammadu Buhari did not have the will to pursue them. He just allowed everything to go haywire in the country.

“If Tinubu gets the cooperation of the whole Nigeria, he will win the fight against oil theft, and let him punish some persons.

“Big men in Nigeria hardly go to prison, do you not see what happens abroad? They lock up former presidents. There are no big men in Nigerian prisons, only petty thieves. They only detain them for some weeks, and then they buy their way through with their big lawyers.”

Mr. President playing the political game–Oviawe, ex-army general

A retired Brigadier-General of the Nigerian Army, Sam Oviawe (retd.) told journalists in Benin City, “I do not think President Tinubu needed to give any order because the sole responsibility of the military is to ensure the safety of the people and the land of Nigeria.”

“I think he was playing political games, and he tried to shift the blame, I did not expect him to declare that in public, he could have written an order to them, which they cannot deny, but talking to please the crowd does not help matters.

”However, he has said that, but for the actual actions, it will surprise me if he gives them the support they will require.

“I do not know what the challenges are now, but I have a feeling that it is the political will to do what is right that has been lacking. Let us take, for example, Boko Haram and Sambisa forest; I am ashamed as an army officer that for 10 years in a land that we call our own, we cannot dissipate a gang of rascals.

“Sambisa Forest is in Nigeria, so we have all the maps to find out what is happening and we should be able to generate enough intelligence from the people, from using electronic gadgets to locate the people where they are exactly, and above that, we can completely isolate that place.

“The people will die of hunger, but we did not do it because the political people wanted it to persist. I believe some people were making money from it, therefore, the longer the thing stays, the more they will make.

“It is not surprising that the former Head of State found it challenging to give an order for their dissipation. Just like I said, you can come to the public and make pronouncements, but when it is time for action, and out in black and white, they will shy away, all because his folks were involved.

“It is the same thing with the South-South, those terrorizing people our people are people who live amongst us. Therefore, we know them but because of political reasons, our governors and our traditional rulers do not take the actions they are supposed to take.

“ If, for instance, the military gets the support they require, it will not take over two weeks to clear Sambisa Forest with the military we have.”

On the connivance of security personnel, Oviawe noted, “It is very possible because a tanker cannot come to a point to steal oil, and military people around there will not know. Even bunkering, before someone can go to the high sea to deliver oil to a ship, people around will know.

“But they are afraid to act because they have not been given specific instructions, at other times, some of them might do under-the-table business and they close their eyes. The lack of proper education seems to have fuelled the attitude.

“The British, when they came here, taught us how and what, but they did not tell us the why. Why did they do that, they wanted to block our thinking capacity, they told us if we press this switch, this light will come on, but why the light should come on, they did not teach us.

“Therefore, if you press the switch, and the light did not come on, we do not know what to do. In school, they taught us to memorize things, but we did not know the practical details of what we have learned.

“Even in religion, they teach us what they say is in the Bible, but they do not go further to tell us why that is in the bible. The day our government agrees that education is our problem, and we restructure our education system and teach our people who we are; why we are what we are, Nigeria will change, and it will happen.

A thief cannot stop another thief–Ambakederimo — N-Delta leader

A prominent Niger Delta leader, Joseph Ambakederimo, stated, “It will be impossible to stop this oil theft. President Bola Tinubu does not know the depth of all the issues and what is going on in the oil sector.”

“Again, they have left too many persons off the hook, they need to debrief and properly inform Mr. President. I am sure he was never briefed on the actual situation of the heinous crime, and criminality being engaged by officers, and men of the armed forces concerning oil theft.

”For this grand theft to stop, he must rejig the Nigerian Navy, Army, and others, and also punish the offenders for their wrongdoings.
“It is not only the military personnel that are involved, officials of the NNPC are deeply involved, ditto the IOCs. It is a well-entrenched cartel with so many connections that it is difficult to find the head.

”There is also theft at the loading terminals. The question to ask here is does Nigeria even know what quantity of oil we pump each day? No one has given very satisfying answers to this question, and we all keep moving on.

“There is what is called topping, this is loading an extra quantity of crude oil onto marine tankers much more than the original quantity that is documented. They pay for the excess in cash.

”Many of these persons given charge by the President to crush the oil thieves are themselves neck deep in the trade, and because the President does not have the real grasp of the issues, he is relying on the same old hands again to tackle a hydra-headed monster for results.

Mr. President must step on toes — Hon Robinson–PANDEF

The Publicity Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Hon. Ken Robinson, who spoke to journalists in Port-Harcourt, said: “Presently, there is no fight against oil thieves, which is the truth, and it is difficult to stop a crime when there are internal collaborators.”

“The so-called oil theft is multi-dimensional, it has different levels. When they say they are taking 1 million barrels a day, there are verifiable insinuations that they could actually take out 1.5 to 2 million barrels.

“They understate what they take out of Niger Delta. A good example that some people have cited is the former Head of State, the late Sani General Abacha’s loot. He died several years ago, and they are still recovering money. They did not budget the monies; rather they are money from our oil.

“Even today, it is still happening, they say they produce 1.3 m barrels, but they take away 2 million and above barrels.

“There are a group of persons, it is not just the military, not just the international syndicates, it is also about officials in the industry, and government officials in high places even in the presidency.”

“If President Tinubu is serious about it, he can stop it by dealing with the internal and external collaborators.

“Sometime in 2021, the leadership of PENGASAN accused the oil and gas communities of being involved in oil theft, which was ridiculous.

“Some of those union officials, officials of NNPC, operators in the industry, and the IOCs are involved. Therefore, they have to do it with extreme measures, the country is losing. Some individuals or groups of people are turning billionaires every day.

“As we speak today, they take millions of barrels of crude oil out of Nigeria, and the resources from this natural oil do not come to the national purse, it goes to those individuals and groups. This happens every day.

“Not too long ago, I travelled to one community in the Niger Delta, and I saw in broad daylight vessels taking crude escorted by the military, even if it is official, what is the quantity been taken out?

“They will state figures, take out crude and our environment is devastated daily and the people of Niger Delta are not involved and are not benefiting from the resources that have depleted our environment.

“Oil theft is carried out by a collaboration of people, even in the presidency, in the oil industry, and of course, the international collaborators, and the military.

“If the president is serious, he has to offend many people; if he has the political will and capacity to offend several people, but he cannot fight different battles at the same time.

“We will not be talking of putting it to a stop, but to minimize it. Last year, when they gave pipeline surveillance contracts to the ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and some other persons in the Niger Delta, people were concerned about the dwindling production output when there was no crisis in the Niger Delta, you saw that production improved to 1.3 – 1.5 million barrels per day.

“This was because people were saying this is too much; vessels were coming in and taking crude out of the country. The presidency can reduce it to the barest minimum but there are stakes. Some highly placed persons are involved in it.”

Service chiefs complicit, can’t stop oil theft – Gbemre, activist

Security services provider and activist, Zik Gbemre, noted, “We cannot take Tinubu seriously in his marching orders to the service chiefs. Successive presidents have given similar orders, and read riot acts to the service chiefs to crush oil thieves. What came of it?
”Nothing meaningful, and as they say, you cannot always do the same thing the same way, and expect different results. The Presidential order only indicts the ruling All Progressives, Congress (APC) as confused, and having no solution to the rape of the nation’s commonwealth through oil theft.

”When Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari approved multi-billion naira pipeline surveillance contracts to ex-militant leaders, he was actually expressing disappointment in the service chiefs’ failure to deal with the problem. Therefore, why is Tinubu relying on the same failed service chiefs?

”If Tinubu means well and is desirous of making a difference, he should do what successive presidents have failed to do, which is exert consequence management against key actors, promoting oil theft.

“Security chiefs are being indicted; even former Governor Nyesom Wike indicted several of them in the military, Police, and NSCDC in his short-lived offensive against oil thieves and illegal refineries.

“But none of those indicted is being prosecuted. All the authorities did is transferring indicted personnel.
“Tinubu must develop the will to apply stiff sanctions when those entrusted to protect the oil and gulping huge security votes while the crime is sustained.

“Sacking and appointing new service chiefs is not enough. People should get tried and punished,” the activist added.

Painstakingly appraise issues at stake –Nsuke, MOSOP president

President of the Movement for Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Fegalo Nsuke, opined that President Tinubu might not make sense of his intervention without first evaluating the inconsistencies and oddities he inherited.

”The award of surveillance contracts to private security contractors, PSCs, in the Niger Delta suggested that the government did not trust its military, and instead considered private companies more effective in dealing with pipeline vandalism. This is untrue. The military is far more capable of dealing with these issues, given their support to private firms.

”Government did not really act right in awarding this contract to the private security companies. It is ironic and sheer hypocrisy that on the one hand, the government says it will deal with pipeline vandals; but on the other, it is patronizing the vandals.

”I see these contracts award as encouragement to pipeline vandals and a message to law-abiding youths of the region, telling them that taking up arms against the state and destroying public facilities is the way to go if you want big government patronage.”

”Federal Government is deliberately militarizing the Niger Delta, destroying the Delta by the wrong decisions they take without considering the impact on social security and the future of the youths.

”I will advise a cut in government spending and for more investments in the people’s future, creating jobs, building infrastructure, and strengthening the security structures to do their jobs to discourage oil theft.”

Concurring with Nsuke, an asset security team leader in one of the marginal fields, said: “As an organized crime, oil theft is not perpetrated by a gang of friends or loafers. They are syndicates of shared contributors. It involves big illegal oil exporters, who tap from the lines into vessels to trans-load into illegal export vessels or feed local clandestine refineries.

”Oil theft is a conspiracy of the military, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, Police, NNPCL, host communities collaborators, vandalized asset repairs’ contractors, and surveillance contractors. The same key actors entrusted to fight the crime are the ones stealing the oil.”

Make a public show of oil thieves –Jalingo, activist

Human rights activist, and journalist, Agba Jalingo, expressed optimism that Tinubu could stop oil thieves if he will make an example with a few openly.

His words: “There is nobody, who is politically conscious that does not know that oil thieves are government people, including military generals, politicians, and non-state actors, that are stealing our oil, as a cartel.

”Admirals, in particular, should be dealt with, rotten eggs amongst our top-ranking officers should be flushed out, and the government’s use of non-state actors is absurd.

“President Tinubu can stop oil thieves in a matter of months if they are serious, everyone who is politically conscious knows exactly what is going on, there are no two ways about it.

”Once he grabs two or three persons, and gives them a public trial, the cabal will know it is no longer business as usual.

”In the past 25 years, the cartel has grown, using violence to assert their authority and trying, by all means, to show capacity, all to steal our oil. Bola Tinubu can stop them by equipping the Navy and flushing out the bad eggs amongst the top military cadre

“For instance, the grandstanding by people like Asari Dokubo is just because Tompolo was given a contract, therefore, he, too, wants his own, but if the President means business, it is just a matter of a month, all these economic saboteurs will be cut to size.

“It is his willingness to fight them to a standstill that will determine if he is truly interested because the people involved are one way or the other in the government, either as military or government officials (politicians), as well as non-state actors,” Agba said.

Fight oil thieves with technology –Enisuoh, Tantita

The Executive Director of Operations and Technical of the Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, TSSNL, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, speaking on the second phase of operations by the Tompolo-operated surveillance company, said: “Every pipeline known to be active has had illegal connections on them.”

“We do not want a situation where we are going to react to people building illegal refineries or people doing illegal connections to the pipeline, we want to prevent that, so phase two should be technology-based.

“Anything that is technology based is at a high level and is expensive. Therefore, we want the incoming administration to put the technology in place to prevent crude oil theft. We should stop oil thieves from attacking the nation’s pipelines.

“If we lose ground, it will be difficult to regain what we have gained today. It is impossible to do the job without the security forces, Army, Police, DSS, Airforce, Navy, etc. We should not be reactive, but proactive in combating oil thieves.

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