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Published On: Sun, Jul 7th, 2013

Dickson Expresses Concern over Illegal Bunkering, Says Militants Procure Arms with Oil Money

Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson

LAGOS JULY 7TH (URHOBOTODAY) Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson is one of the prominent Nigerian leaders who are not happy with the level of crude oil theft, especially in the Niger-Delta region of the country.
The governor has accused militants of vandalising oil pipelines, stealing crude oil for the purpose of procuring arms, and recruiting new members.
Dickson, who described oil theft as a threat to national security, also decried the proliferation of arms in the region, saying oil theft could be linked to the procurement of such arms.
Speaking in Yenagoa while receiving the new Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Usman, Dickson expressed concern about the rising wave of illegal bunkering, sea piracy and pipeline vandalism as well as the sophistication with which the crime is being committed.
His condemnation came hours after Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) also decried the spate of oil theft in the country.
“What is going on is more of a threat to national security than even the loss of revenue that everybody is shouting about. Let me tell you that all the violence, brigandage and criminality that we experience in the Niger Delta states, particularly Bayelsa where I know more, have their roots in the activities in the creeks,” he said.
“It is from there they have easy funds to recruit followers; it is from these activities of crude oil theft and illegal refining that people are able to sustain such large numbers of youths and put them into various cult groups. What is going on has a direct effect on the proliferation of small and light weapons because they need an army of youths to protect their territories, to be able to withstand the onslaught of legitimate security personnel.”
For those who still defying the State Cultism Proscription law in spite of his government’s olive branch and arrangement for their renunciation and eventual integration, he said: “I am sounding a clear note of warning that this government will not succumb to blackmail or propaganda.
“This government will work with security agencies in this state to ensure that those who violate the laws of this state and country will be brought to book.”
He urged the people of the State to cooperate with the Nigerian Navy to achieve the administration’s policy of zero tolerance for violence and criminality just as he described the establishment of the Central Naval Command in the state as strategic, considering its maritime nature.
Earlier, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd bemoaned the level of crude oil theft leading to the recent fire and explosion on the 28’’ Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP).
According to a statement signed by Tony Okonedo, Head, Media Communications of SPDC, a joint investigation team comprising regulators, communities, independent observers and SPDC found that the incident occurred as a result of unknown persons installing a valve to steal crude oil from the line.
The statement revealed that SPDC had repaired the valve point and removed six other crude oil theft connections in its continuing efforts to maintain the integrity of the line.
“At the earliest opportunity, we quickly mobilised teams to respond to a crude theft spill on the 28 TNP on June 10 and the explosion and fire on June 19. We conducted an assessment of the risks and decided, with the support of the JTF to enforce a restriction of access to the site for safety reasons.
“Our response and the actions we took at Bodo West were in the best interest of lives and the environment,” the statement said, revealing that “in the past three years, a total of 25 leaks have been recorded on the facility, 23 of which were due to sabotage and two operational pinhole leaks.”
Continuing, Okonedo wrote: “Integrity assessments, including Long Range Ultrasonic Test surveys, Cathodic Protection, surveys and chemical injection have been periodically performed on the pipelines.
“Also, SPDC has always made use of the opportunity presented during sabotage/crude theft point leak repairs to carry out on-the-spot coating and internal checks to confirm the integrity of the pipeline and coating.”
Shell also expressed confidence that the arrested persons would be treated in line with the principle of presumption of innocence and hope for a speedy and transparent dispensation of justice.
“As we have stated previously, crude theft has severe consequences lasting far beyond our lifetime. I have a personal stake in this tragedy having spent nearly all my adult and working life in the Niger Delta,” the statement added.
“The trend of crude theft will result in long-lasting damage to the wellbeing of present and future generations. All stakeholders who are genuinely interested in seeing this problem curtailed should join hands and stop this crime against the people and the environment of the Niger Delta.”
Source: Huhuonline

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