The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), yesterday, declared that the military should be held responsible for the high rate of crude oil theft in the country. This was as the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), disclosed that the quantum of petroleum theft was about 95.4 million litres per day or 600,000 barrels, since a barrel contains 159 litres. PENGASSAN and NUPRC stated these revelations to the Senate Ad-hoc Committee, mandated to investigate Oil Lifting, Theft and the impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues.
In his submission to the Committee, headed by Senator Bassey Akpan (YPP, Akwa Ibom North East), the National President of PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, said oil theft is collaborative crime between military personnel assigned to protect oil installations and the locals running illegal refineries.
He alleged that the Military and other security agencies were aiding and abetting criminals to steal the crude with the active connivance of the regulatory agencies in charge of the nation’s Petroleum industry. He said: “One of the greatest problems we have, which nobody has highlighted is that there is a strong connivance of our security forces in the crime. There is no doubt about this.
From our Army to our naval officers, we have information that they pay their superiors to post them to some areas in the Niger Delta. “I can authoritatively inform this committee that men of the Nigerian Army and the Navy pay their superiors to be posted to the Niger Delta. Even when the former Commander of the Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt was removed, many of the men in the Command resisted to be posted out due to the lucrativeness of their operational areas.” In his own submission, the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Administration in NUPRC, Mr Jide Adeola, said about 600,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen per day.