House Wants Security Agencies to Partner Experts to Destroy Illegal Refineries, Petroleum Products


*Proposes N500,000 fine for obstruction of FCT metropolitan staff
James Emejo in Abuja

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a motion mandating the Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Environment and Habitat, Army, Navy, Interior, Niger Delta, and Legislative Compliance to interface with relevant security agencies to ensure that officials of relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are involved in the process of destroying illegal refineries and boats laden with petroleum products.

It said the move had become necessary in order to prevent further environmental degradation.
The proposed synergy with experts is aimed at guaranteeing, to an extent, retrieval of the stolen crude oil, avoid spillage, either on land or water, as well as minimise economic losses as well as avoid pollution and degradation of the environment.

The committees are to report back in six weeks for further legislative action.
Meanwhile, a bill currently being considered by the House has proposed a fine of N500,000 for anyone who obstructs the staff of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Metropolitan Management Council from carrying out their lawful duties.

The legislation provides that the proposed council would be vested with the powers over land use and control of development in the territory, including processing and approval of building plans for development and monitoring and control of physical development as well as design, control and provision of parks, gardens and recreational facilities and their maintenance.

The proposed council will also take charged of the control of advertisements, including issuance of permits for municipal, bill boards, signals etcetera; street naming and house numbering and general public facility management and maintenance.

However the motion on the need for security agencies to involve experts in the destruction of illegal refineries and boats laden with petroleum products to prevent environmental degradation was moved by Hon. Owoidighe Ekpoattai.

He expressed worry that despite the commendable efforts of the various security agencies to curb the menace of illegal refineries, the methods adopted in the destruction of those refineries are further endangering the environment of the region and negatively affecting the general health and well-being of the people because wastes emanating from the destroyed refineries and barges are washed into the creeks and the ocean.

He said the failure by security agents to involve experts in carrying out the destruction of the refineries posed environmental hazards just as the existence and operation of those illegal refineries themselves.

Nonetheless, the proposed FCT council is to prepare plans for the management of all public facilities within the FCT; manage, protect, maintain and improve public infrastructure; levy user charges in connection with the provision of its functions, among others.

The bill provides that any person who “willfully obstructs the Council or any authorized officer of the Authority in the exercise of any of the powers conferred on the council by this Act; or fails to comply with any lawful enquiry or requirements made by an authorized officer, shall be guilty to any offence.”

In addition, a related bill on the establishment of the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), seeks to create an agency that would coordinate activities related to disaster management, educate and inform the public on disaster prevention and control measures.