Oil Theft: House to Probe Rivalry Between Navy, Private Security Firms

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The House of Representatives has  mandated its Special Committee on Oil Theft in the Niger Delta to investigate the causes of the endless rivalry and conflict of operational responsibilities between the Nigerian Navy and private security firms engaged by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC).
The resolution of the House followed the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary on  yesterday by Hon. Donald Ojogo.
Moving the motion, Ojogo said the Nigerian Navy, by law, is a statutory national security agency established with the sole purpose of protecting Nigeria’s maritime integrity and territorial waters.

He said  the sole responsibility covers the protection of Nigeria’s national assets, including the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure across the water belts of the country covering inland, onshore and offshore waters.
The lawmaker noted that the Nigerian Navy has a history of commendable exploits within and outside Nigeria while on operations, making the nation proud.
Ojogo stressed that in its bid to take full advantage of human potentials across the nation’s oil belt, the Niger Delta and the NNPC in August 2022, firmed out intricate aspects of securing the nation’s oil and gas assets to some private security firms with deep knowledge of the areas in question.

He explained that this was done to protect such assets from vandals in order to stem oil theft, enhance productivity and ultimately engender higher production output to grow the nation’s economy through increased revenue.
The lawmaker pointed out that such arrangements have recorded some positive results with regards to production output even as the 2024 budget estimates presented to the National Assembly by President Bola Tinubu alluded to high expectations of further increase in output by benchmarking the same at 1.7 million bpd.

He expressed  concern that the high expectations that could strengthen robust collaboration appeared to be threatened by an unhealthy rivalry and incessant conflicts of operational responsibilities.
Ojogo expressed worry that the cases of unchecked open conflicts and altercations have almost reached an embarrassing level of media brickbats between the Navy and some private security firms with such assigned responsibilities.

“(We are) further concerned that just last week, there was a reported case of exchange of gunfire between men of the Nigerian Navy and operatives of a private security outfit on the coastal waters of Ondo State and parties involved adduced or advanced reasons for their actions and inactions with accusations and counter accusations,” he said.
The lawmaker noted  that if the trend continues, an unachievable oil output projection looms ahead of the 2024 fiscal year and that the implication of such development on the economy will be negative.

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