Justice Mariam Aloma Mukthar
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mariam Aloma Mukthar, has called for the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the National Assembly.
Mukthar made the call yesterday at the opening of an oil and gas workshop for the Nigerian Judiciary organised by the International Institute for Petroleum, Energy Law and Policy (IIPELP) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja.
She also identifies poor regulation as a major obstacle to oil and gas production in the country.
According to the CJN, regulatory uncertainty was the main obstacle to the growth and expansion of the oil and gas industry and a menace no economy can grow above.
She stated further that it was partly due to this desire to rid of these uncertainties whether perceived or real that International Commercial Arbitration has become a main eater of contracts especially in the oil and gas sector.
She said the quick passage of the PIB will eliminate the legislative hiccups, form a new bedrock and open up new frontiers for a more robust oil and gas sector that will be both private sector led and commercially driven.
The CJN also added that the passage of the PIB would also curb oil bunkering and that the nation’s judiciary was determined to win back the confidence and trust of Nigerians and other key payers in the country’s economic sector especially the oil and gas sector.
Also, a former CJN and the Chairman of the Governing Council IIPELP, Justice Salihu Alfa Belgore, called for the reorganisation of the oil industry to curtail wastages and the activities of the oil bunkerers.
He accused oil companies including the multinationals of aiding and abetting the act.
According to Belgore, bunkerers and oil companies have illegal refineries in neighbouring countries, adding that security personnel had to be bribed to protect oil installations.
“ It is unfortunate that security personnel are part and parcel of oil theft. A country like Brazil has the best oil and gas policy in the world and therefore there is the urgent need for the Nigerian government to champion indigenous oil policy as well as build refineries,” he said.
He however urged the Federal Government to seek the help of the Soviet Union in the area of gas and pipeline maintenance.
In his remark the Managing Director of IIPELP, Niyi Ayoola Daniels, said there was need to bring to the fore the nefarious activities in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and proffer solutions necessitating the workshop.