CAPTION: R-L: Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (2nd right); Commandant General NSCDC, Ahmed Abubakar Audi (right); Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday (2nd left) and the Garrison Commander, 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Brig. Gen. S.S. Tilawon, at the commissioning of eight gunboats acquired for use by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Tuesday
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola has declared full-scale war against economic saboteurs in the oil sector and vandals of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
The minister made the declaration yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers state while commissioning eight newly acquired gunboats by the Nigeria Security and Civil defence Corps, (NSCDC).
He said that the government is not oblivious of the dangers crude oil theft portends for the country, stating that the value of such theft is estimated to be in its billions and sabotages the nation’s economy creating a glut and forcing down official prices hence those caught will be dealt with accordingly.
Aregbesola warns that “Those who steal crude oil not only deny the country of the much-needed revenue; they sell the stolen goods at discounted prices, well below the market value. This black market creates a glut and forces down the official price. They have therefore made Nigeria to suffer the double jeopardy of loss in revenue and drop in the value of the product.
In a communique, the minister said “President Muhammadu Buhari has given us the resources and the marching order to take the war to them.
“As a step in this direction, the Federal Government is taking adequate steps to equip relevant security agencies and, by extension, the NSCDC, which is the lead agency in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure.”
The Minister further stated; “In the latest estimate, billions of dollars are lost to oil thieves and vandals. There is no gainsaying the fact that the federal government is committed and determined to curb the menace of oil theft which is bleeding the economy mindlessly, a development which has led to a drop in the earnings of the government.
“This unhealthy development has equally led to environmental pollution and other health hazards recorded in places where crude and refined products have been unleashed on the environment from broken pipes”.
“Government is not oblivious of the danger the above scenario poses to national security and socio-economic development. No responsible government would sit down helplessly and watch this reckless display of brigandage by a few unpatriotic and criminally minded individuals who put personal interest above any other consideration,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Dr. Ahmed Audi, declared the Corps’ readiness to put an end to pipeline vandalism and pillaging of the nation’s resources.
“Let me use this medium to assure the Federal Government and the good people of this great country, that the Corps is determined more than ever before and fully committed to the war against oil theft and illegal oil bunkering and will therefore make judicious use of this operational equipment to take the war to the doorstep of these economic brigands and saboteurs.
“I have directed continued strengthening of effective synergy with the military, relevant sister agencies as well as other stakeholders in our avowed commitment to checkmate the ugly trend,” the Commandant General stated.
Also speaking at the event, the Garrison Commander, of the 6 Division of the Nigeria Army, Brig. Gen. S. S. Tilawan said the war has the support of the Nigerian military, noting that they will continue to support the fight against illegal bunkering of Nigeria’s crude oil products whilst strengthening the collaboration between the military and the NSCDC.