Home Analysis Stealing Nigeria blind and failure of EFCC to stop the thieves

Stealing Nigeria blind and failure of EFCC to stop the thieves

by Business News Report

Stealing has become a major hobby and pastime for Nigerians in high places. It has even become a big time business. All arms of government are affected. The private sector is not even spared. In the news at the moment is Demeji Bankole. Perhaps if those suspended members had not spilled the beans the case would not be in court now. Nigeria’s finances are milked, pillaged and bled every day by the few who are privileged in the society. This is what the Economic and Financial Crime Commission was set up to checkmate. So far the body cannot boast that it has done it successfully
The greatest form of stealing is the one going on in the Niger Delta. Powerful Nigerians, some retired military men connive with oil companies and top government functionaries to steal crude oil and sell in the open market or refine it in some small scale refining facilities that dot the landscape in the Niger Delta. This form of stealing is worse than what members of the National Assembly are accused of doing to the nation. Yet the EFCC has not done a thing in this area.
Painfully, last week Monday, Shell declared force majeure on its Bonny Light crude oil loadings for June and July due to production cutbacks caused by leaks and fires on its Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP). Shell said the leaks — caused by saboteurs who used hacksaws — had been repaired and production resumed on June 12, but the shutdown of the lines had affected loading programmes at its Bonny export terminal.
The force majeure, which frees the company from contractual deliveries due to actions beyond its control, took effect at noon on Monday. “The leaks and fires show a worrying trend not only on the TNP but also on our facilities elsewhere. Sadly, the trend is continuing unabated,” said Babs Omotowa, vice president for health and safety for Shell in sub-Saharan Africa. “At end of April, we recorded more than 35 sabotage spills. SPDC is continuing to upgrade facilities … but no matter how much we improve our performance, until the activities of oil thieves and illegal refiners are brought to an end, the vast majority of oil spills in the Niger Delta will continue.”
Crude oil theft, known as illegal bunkering, is rampant in the Niger Delta with some estimates putting the amount stolen as high as 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), much of it smuggled inside otherwise legitimate shipments. Nigeria is thus losing 100,000 of crude per day. In a year, the country loses 36.5 million barrels of crude oil to this category of thieves. The International oil companies themselves do not disclose the actual amount of crude they produce. It is also estimated that another 100,000 barrel per day is lost by the nation to this class of international thieves in the oil industry. This means that on the average the nation loses 73 million barrel per annum to crude oil theft. In real terms 73 million barrel at today’s market price is about $8.17 billion. In naira terms Nigeria loses N1.22 trillion to oil thieves in a year.

Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, last year gave a new insight into those behind crude oil theft when he said that not a few industries outside the Niger Delta region were encouraging illegal bunkering that has resulted in increased pipeline vandalisation. He disclosed that such industries have resorted to the use of crude oil in powering their plants and machines since they cannot get fuel easily. The governor said that in the past, bursting of pipelines to steal crude was for export, noting that this has now become very difficult for those who engaged in it as they have now found local market for their illegally sourced crude.
Uduaghan had said: “As I have said in the last few months, there has been increase of bursting of pipelines. I tell you why, many industries outside the Niger Delta now decide to use crude to power their plants and machines since they cannot get fuel. The fuel scarcity has led to increase in the bursting of pipelines.
“The bursting of these pipelines before was for the export of crude, it has become very difficult for them to export stolen crude now. But, unfortunately, many Nigerian industries have resorted to the use of crude to power their plants and other machines. “So, they are now encouraging bunkering in this area. We, as government, are putting together measures to stop illegal bunkering. So, assist us in appealing to industries that are outside the Niger Delta that are encouraging this kind of illegal bunkering to stop encouraging those involved in it‚Äù he said.
This means that the government and in effect the EFCC has security reports on those involved. But there is no sign that the EFCC is doing anything serious to stop these thieves. So stealing is in all ramification of the nation’s economy. At the rate the resources of the country are being pillage and carted away by the few privileged people, how can Nigeria develop at the pace others are developing?
Given the fact that Nigeria is losing so much money to high profile thieves, is it not time the EFCC wake up to its responsibility to the nation? Is it not about time for it to make a scapegoat of those involved? The EFCC has failed in its duty of preventing Economic and Financial Crime in Nigeria. There is the urgent need to overhaul the apparatus of the EFCC.

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