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EFCC saves Nigeria N70b from oil theft, scams

Posted by By Bassey Udo, Snr Correspondent, Abuja on 2004/08/23 | Views: 368 |

EFCC saves Nigeria N70b from oil theft, scams

Efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to rid the oil sector of theft and other illegal activities have saved Nigeria over $500 million (N70 billion) since 2002 alone.

• Stakeholders agree to end gas flares in 2008

Efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to rid the oil sector of theft and other illegal activities have saved Nigeria over $500 million (N70 billion) since 2002 alone.

No fewer than 500 persons are behind bars for offences related to the theft as well as petroleum products pipeline vandalisation and attempts to defraud individuals at home and abroad through false oil contracts.

EFCC Director General, Nuhu Ribadu disclosed this at the weekend when the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Funso Kupolokun, called on him in Abuja.

Kupolokun himself said incidents of vandalisation decreased from 904 cases in 2002 to about 450 last years as a result of the NNPC’s alliance with the EFCC.

But the country still loses about 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) as a result of theft, besides the more than 350,000 bpd being held up by community problems.

Nigerians lose another $1 million to fraudsters in non-existent oil deals.

Apart from the arrest of the culprits, the government has confiscated their properties while the law that would empower the EFCC to prosecute them is undergoing amendments.

Said Ribadu: “We have to sanitise the oil industry to restore confidence. The activities of these 419 groups have destroyed the credibility of the country in the international community. All the huge investments by the country in the oil industry are not bringing any fruits because of 419 activities. We will not allow Nigeria to continue to be a haven for criminals.

“The entire socio-economic system need to be overhauled as more than 75 per cent of Nigeria’s debts are accumulated through fraudulent contracts by successive administrations.

“Fundamentally, Nigerians as a people are good people. Why do we continue to allow bad people to overwhelm us? We need to do something. As a Commission, we intend to contend it, if we have the support of players in the key sectors of the economy”.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the oil and gas industry have agreed on July 31, 2008 as the definite and irrevocable date to end all forms of gas flares in the country.

Inability to realise previous deadlines was traced to the lack of consensus between the government and the operators.

But Minister of Environment Bala Mande who explained government efforts to make the 2008 deadline a reality said the parties have finally agreed that flaring would not be done beyond that date.

He was speaking in Abuja at the 2004 ministerial press briefing on the activities of his ministry in the last two years.

The companies also agreed to ensure that a comprehensive remediation of all environmentally impacted sites would be completed before 2006, while the ministry would monitor strict compliance in conjunction with oil states.

Companies that fail to comply risk stiff sanctions as the government says it is committed to the enforcement of all regulations to protect the environment and make it habitable.

A total 422 oil spill incidents were reported to the ministry in the last two years, involving about 18,436 barrels of crude.

Meanwhile, the ministry is initiating a bill that would ban the use of cellophane materials in packaging food products and other consumables.

The draft, being handled by top officials of the ministry and those of the Justice Ministry, would soon be submitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration before presentation to the National Assembly.

Acknowledging the enormous damage to the environment by cellophane materials, particularly the negative impact on the country’s drainage systems, Mande emphasised the need to replace such materials with those that could be recycled and regenerated.

Offensive materials include those used to package “pure water”, which takes up to about 60 years to degrade, taking up arable land that could be used for food production.

“We are working on a bill that would ban cellophane materials. We would replace such materials with those that would not degrade our environment”, Mande pledged.

He listed the achievement of the ministry since 2002 to include the review of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan which has been presented to the FEC for approval.

The ministry plans a data bank to help predict environmental conditions and guide appropriate strategies for sound environmental management.

“The United Nations Environmental Project (UNEP) has promised to provide us with some remote sensing data while we also hope to utilise the data released from the Nigeria-Sat 1 in monitoring environmental trends over time”.

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