Oil Theft: PANDEF Demands Probe of Vessel Allegedly Destroyed by Security Operatives 

Deji Elumoye  and  Udora Orizu in Abuja

The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has called for probe into the recently destroyed vessel used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks by security operatives, after the vessel was reportedly arrested by a newly-contracted private pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services led by a former militant leader, Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo.

The Forum in a communique issued at the end of its meeting in Abuja and signed by its leader, Chief Edwin Clark, expressed shock over the recent startling revelations of massive and systematic oil theft.

PANDEF said with the admission by the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), of the existence of the sophisticated syndicate, which for several decades, has continued to siphon the wealth of the country; called for an apology to the people of the Niger Delta, who have been falsely accused over the years.

The Forum urged President Muhammadu Buhari as substantive Minister of Petroleum, to urgently take steps to launch a full-scale investigation into this matter, including constituting a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to ascertain the perpetrators of this outrageous thievery. 

On the recent flood disaster across the country, PANDEF expressed great concern over the level of destruction reported, especially since more than 600 people have so far lost their lives in the ravaging floods.

The Forum called on President Muhammadu Buhari to visit Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States, to assess the level of damage and destruction, as is normally done, all over the world.

It also called on the relevant agencies of the federal government as well as the international and indigenous oil companies, other corporate bodies and well-meaning individuals to come to the immediate aid of states affected by the flood, in the Niger Delta, to ameliorate their suffering.

The group further called on the Federal Ministry of Works to begin an assessment of the quality of work on the all-important East-West Road, which connects the oil-producing states of the country.

PANDEF commended the President for the sack of Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa, interim administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the subsequent appointment of Engr. Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua from Delta State, to head the commission pending the appointment of a substantive management team and governing board.

The Forum noted that Effiong Okon Akwa was the third interim head of NDDC in about three years; describing the situation as awful and hope that the substantive management and governing board for the Commission will be constituted, in line with the NDDC Act, without further delay.

On the Water Resources Bill, PANDEF condemned the insistence of the federal government to pursue the obnoxious Bill, saying that it will be sternly resisted.

The communique  further read, “on the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PANDEF cautions the federal government against any ill-advised plan to terminate the Presidential Amnesty Programme given the rumours that the government is scheduling to wind up the programme before the end of the Buhari administration. The meeting further warns that considerations that the Presidential Amnesty programme could be scrapped due to a pipeline Surveillance contract awarded to a private firm, are not only illogical but unacceptable.

“Notes that the Amnesty Programme was an intervention to promote peace and stability in the Niger Delta; thus, any attempt to prematurely end the programme would be detrimental to the peace and stability of the Niger Delta.”

In the forthcoming 2023 general elections, particularly the presidency, PANDEF firmly reiterates the stance of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum that the principle of zoning and power rotation between the North and the South remains sacrosanct.

“Accordingly, maintains that the next president of Nigeria should come from the south and calls on all patriotic Nigerians, eligible voters, irrespective of region and religion, who cherish the peace, unity and stability of our country, to vote for a Southern candidate in the 2023 presidential election. PANDEF would, in due course, make known to the public its preferred candidate amongst the presidential candidates of Southern Extraction, after formal interaction with them.”

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