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OIL THEFT: Don’t blame N-Delta ex-militants, Presidency warns oil firms

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By SONI DANIEL, Regional Editor, North

The Presidency defended ex-militants currently on the payroll of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) of involvement in the theft of oil in the Niger Delta.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, claimed over 400,000 barrels of crude are stolen daily by unknown persons. The Presidential Amnesty Office (PAO) asked the international oil corporations (IOCs) to take urgent steps to halt the negative trend rather than accuse the former warlords and their foot soldiers of theft.

In a statement, PAO’s Head, Media and Communications, Daniel Alabrah, stated that the ex-militants were no longer in a position to embark on such a venture, given their re-orientation by the PAO.

Alabra said: “Having being properly disarmed, demobilised and currently undergoing reintegration through various training programmes, the former agitators do not have the capacity to embark on the scale of oil theft in the region where the country currently loses about 400,000 barrels of crude per day. “While commending the security agencies in the Niger Delta, particularly the Nigerian Navy, for almost wiping out cases of illegal refineries in the region, the PAO notes that the incidence of oil theft is actually a setback to the amnesty programme, which has succeeded in ensuring the stabilisation of security in the region.

The spokesman stated that the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman of the PAP, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, did not raise a false alarm nor was his call on the oil companies to look inward in their search for the culprits misplaced, as claimed by some of the oil workers’ union in their reaction to the SA’s comment.

The Presidency also noted that the IOCs in the region had not shown enough transparency in the process of award of their pipeline surveillance contracts, which tended to emasculate the communities and the Niger Delta people from the process of securing such critical infrastructure in the region.

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