Monday, June 20, 2011

Stealing Nigeria blind and failure of EFCC to stop the thieves

20 June 2011

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. Even the private sector is not 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 everyday by the few who are privileged in the society. This is what the Economic and Financial Crimes 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 last 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 the 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.”

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