Controversy Trails FG’s Planned Special Task Force on Vandalism

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  • Amnesty office will collaborate with security agencies against pipeline vandals, says Boroh

Ndubuisi Francis and Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja

The recent pronouncement by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to create a special task force to tackle vandalism of pipelines in the Niger Delta has generated controversies within the security circle, as security experts said it would amount to duplication of the national security and civil defence corps’ mandate.

During his recent official visit to Delta State, the Vice-President was quoted as saying that the federal government was considering the establishment of a special security force to tackle vandalism of pipelines in the Niger Delta, as the country loses about 250,000 barrels of oil per day.

He stated that the federal government would form a permanent pipeline security force, which would be armed with sophisticated weapons that would contain vandalism and overhaul security.

However, security watchers who spoke with THISDAY in Abuja yesterday, said rather than establishing a new security force for anti-pipeline vandals, the presidency should strengthen the operations of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

Although they preferred anonymity, the security watchers insisted that the federal government’s fund for such agency should rather be used for other pressing national security needs.
In line with the Act which created the NSCDC, its core mandates is to maintain 24-hour surveillance over infrastructures,sites and projects for the federal, state and local government.

The civil defence corps, whose many officials had been trained on anti-terrorism and other arms training is mandated to enter and search any premises and seize any material suspected to have been used in vandalism or suspected proceed of vandalism.

It is also mandated to enter and search premises of any suspected illegal dealer in petroleum products or material used by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the Nigerian Postal Services, the Nigeria Telecommunication Limited or for any other public utility or infrastructure.

When contacted on phone yesterday, the NSCDC spokesperson, Mr. Emmanuel Okeh, said what the federal government was planning to do is establish and equip a special force within the NSCDC and not from outside the corps.

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) for ex-militants, Brig. Gen Paul Boroh (rtd), has expressed the resolve of the Amnesty Office to collaborate with security agencies to checkmate the activities of criminal elements, who indulge in pipeline vandalism in some parts of the oil and gas-rich region.

In a telephone chat with THISDAY, Boroh said he was completely dissociating the Amnesty Office from the wanton cases of vandalism of oil assets in some parts of the Niger Delta by those he described as ‘economic saboteurs.
His reaction followed last weekend’s disclosure by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, that 250,000 barrels of oil per day are lost daily in the Niger Delta due to pipeline vandalism with the attendant huge revenue losses suffered by the country.

Boroh, who expressed deep concern over the increasing spate of vandalism, said the Amnesty Office was saddened by these acts of sabotage and was completely dissociating itself from the elements whom he described as economic saboteurs.

According to him, the Amnesty Office would partner with the security agencies so that the culprits would be apprehended and treated as economic saboteurs.

Asked whether the activities of the vandals and the huge military presence in the Niger Delta is not a threat to peace in the region, Boroh said peace was not threatened, adding that the perpetrators were mere criminal elements.
“The Amnesty Office completely dissociates itself from these acts of sabotage by these criminals.We are not happy at all. We will partner with the security agencies so that the culprits behind these acts of sabotage could be apprehended,” he said.