Edwin Clark, one of the national leaders of the Ijaw, says the stealing of crude oil in the Niger Delta has been occurring for about fifty years and call for the probe of the illegal pipeline discovered by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPCL).
The Ijaw leader said this at a news conference in Abuja on Monday.
Last week, Channels TV in a report said the illegal pipeline has been used to steal oil from the country in the last nine years.
Mr Clark stealing of oil in the region has been on for about 50 years.
“Although the NNPCL thinks these have been going on in the past 20 years, some of us have always insisted that this oil theft has been going on for much longer, for about 50 years,” he said.
He said an investigation into the matter must be transparent and comprehensive if government agencies were sincere about unravelling the situation.
“My attention and that of the entire country have been drawn to the recent discovery of a large scale and sophisticated oil theft machinery going on at the deep swamps at Yokri, close to the Forcados terminal in Delta,” he said.
“According to reports, high-powered technological engineering expertise is applied to steal crude oil from the Forcados line.
“This is transported through a four-kilometre pipeline to a platform in the sea, which belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and its partners.
“According to NNPC, this is part of the 470 thousand barrels of crude oil that is being lost every month, amounting to $700 million.
“What is going on is a sophisticated criminal act, carried out by a syndicate.”
Clark added that the discovery of the illegal four kilometres pipeline — through which crude oil was being siphoned — showed that oil theft was being perpetuated by criminal mafias, with the connivance of some officials in the oil industry.
He said the investigation must uncover all government officials involved in the act, including top officials of the NNPC and their collaborators.
According to him, such perpetrators have caused a huge amount of harm to the country and to the Niger Delta communities.
“It is dangerously incredible that crude oil theft, in spite of all the securities around, has assumed a wider dimension to the extent that the quantity of crude oil we export today is less than the quantity being stolen by a gang of thieves of various designations,” Mr Clark said.
The elder statesman further called on the federal government to institute a judicial inquiry to investigate oil theft.
In August, the presidency said the government would soon name the big men behind the stealing of the country’s oil in the Niger Delta is yet to release the names after about two months.
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