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Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Tuesday, slammed the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva for blaming external oil thieves for the loss in crude oil output and the money that is supposed to accrue from petroleum products.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the minister should look no further outwards but to look inwards as the oil thieves raping Nigeria of its natural resources and its wealth are right inside the corridors of power.
The dwindling earnings from the oil sector remains a critical contributor to the failing economic situation in the country with Nigeria’s debt already hitting N77 trillion.
Sylva, in a release, however insisted that the Federal Government was determined to end the trend through improved investments and security along the major oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region.
He denied that 40 per cent of the volumes of crude losses did not come from measurement inaccuracies, as claimed in the public.
Sylva said the major sources of crude oil losses have primarily been theft, pipeline vandalism and production deferment as a result of pipeline non-availability.
Reacting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The statement by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva is largely false because the thieves are in government and it should not be difficult for a government that is sincere to nab them if indeed the government is sincere at all.
“Nigerians are not fools. They recall how last year, security agents swiftly destroyed a vessel used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks after the vessel was reportedly arrested by a newly-contracted private pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services led by a former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo.
“The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor had said the vessel was caught in the act and security agents subsequently set the ‘instrument of operation’ ablaze, noting that no investigation is needed to carry out the action.
“The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited then said it uncovered an illegal oil connection from Forcados Terminal that operated for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period. Similarly, Tompolo said about 58 illegal oil points were discovered.
“However, none of the suspects in connection with all these discoveries have been exposed or prosecuted. This is complicit and it is unfortunate that a government that claims it is fighting corruption is involved in all these coverups.
“The government and security agents must immediately expose and prosecute all the thieves that are within this government. “