The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, on Tuesday, alleged that security agencies, churches, mosques and communities where pipelines pass through are involved in pipeline vandalism and theft of petroleum products.
Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mele Kyari, stated this while defending the pipeline surveillance contract given to a former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, according to Daily Trust.
Kyari maintained that the decision to hire private contractors to protect the oil pipeline network nationwide was the best the Nigerian Government could do in the present circumstances.
Although the government is not dealing directly with the former warlord, it has signed a contract with a company in which Tompolo has interests, Kyari disclosed.
He said, “We need private contractors to man the right of way to these pipelines. So, we put up a framework for contractors to come and bid and they were selected through a tender process. And we believe we made the right decision.”
He accused churches, mosques, security agencies as well as communities where pipelines pass through of being involved in pipeline vandalism and theft of petroleum products.
According to him, the company has found stolen petroleum products warehoused in churches and mosques with the knowledge of all members of the society where the incidents occurred.
He added that the entire network of pipelines for petroleum products distribution in the country had been shut down as a result of the activities of vandals.
He said, “As you may also be aware because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines from Atlas Cove all the way to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37 depots that we have across the country. You know, none of them can take delivery of products today.
“And the reason is very simple. For some of the lines, for instance, from Warri to Benin, we haven’t operated that line for 15 years. Every molecule of product that we put gets lost. And of course, you remember the sad incident of fire incident very close to Warri, close to Sapele that killed so many people.“
So, we had to shut it down and as we speak, ladies and gentlemen, the level of losses that we have on our product pipeline, and I’m sure you may have seen it and I’ll invite you at the right time so we can take a look at it jointly.
“You remember that Lagos area. When a fire outbreak happened in one of our pipelines, we discovered that some of the pipelines were actually connected to individuals’ homes. And not only that, and with all sensitivity to our religious beliefs, you know, some of the pipelines and some of the products that we found, are actually in churches and in mosques.
“That means that everybody is involved. There is no way you will take products, bring in trucks in populated neighborhoods, load it and leave without everybody else knowing about it. That everybody includes members of the community, members of the religious leadership and also and most likely government officials of all natures, including security agencies personnel. They are everywhere. And I’ve seen this even in the Niger Delta. There’s no way you would deliver a volume and lose up to 30 percent and you will continue to put that product in this line.”
He said though the security agencies were doing their part, end-to-end pipeline surveillance would require the involvement of private entities and community stakeholders.
He said apart from the problem of vandalism, pipelines have also aged, which according to him, led to their shutdown.
Kyari, however, said that the company had decided to come up with a new pipeline management system that will enable them to distribute petroleum products in the country.
He, however, warned vandals against destroying pipelines, saying security agencies would come after them.
He added that the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are following the proceeds of the crime to arrest those involved.
SaharaReporters earlier reported that the Nigerian Government gave a multi-million-dollar pipeline surveillance contract to a former militant leader.
It was learnt that the government and the NNPC had signed a deal with a former militant leader and Commander of the defunct Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo to end pipeline vandalism and all forms of oil theft in the Niger Delta, the source said.
It was learnt that Tompolo had already met with some ex-agitators and youth leaders in oil-rich communities in Niger Delta for enlistment to safeguard oil pipelines.
The contract awarded to Topolo has been generating mixed reactions.