The Nigerian Navy has said the majority of crude oil theft in the country occurs in offshore facilities of oil companies.
The Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Commodore Suleiman Ibrahim, made the claim during an interactive session with newsmen in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Ibrahim warned that the country will continue to lose huge revenue if it continues to pay attention only to illegal bunkering activities going on onshore.
He expressed his regret that despite the directive of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, chairmen of local government areas in the State no longer assist the Nigerian Navy in the fight against illegal bunkering. The Commander said, “We are not getting any support from the local government councils now, even after the State governor’s directive. They were supporting before, but the tempo had died down”.
Ibrahim also expressed worry over the kind of sentences being handed down to oil thieves, saying such judgments discourage security operatives from the fight against illegal bunkering activities.
He said, “Even the judiciary is not helping our cause. The type of judgment they hand down to oil thieves is not encouraging. We know the pain; we know what we go through to arrest. So, when certain judgments come, it discourages us. We don’t have the power to prosecute. When we arrest, we hand over the suspects to agencies that have prosecuting power. They are the ones that go to court. We also follow up.
“It is after the judgment that the prosecuting agency will write to us to inform us that the thieves were either sentenced to six months imprisonment, or a fine of N2, 000; while the seized was sold for a paltry sum of money”.