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Oil theft: Navy destroys 347 illegal refineries in five months



As crude oil theft and illegal refining continue in the Niger Delta region, the Nigerian Navy says it has destroyed no fewer than 347 illegal refineries in the last five months.

It stated that the proliferation of illegal refineries had been an enabler of crude oil theft because access to crude supply through vandalism of pipelines had kept the illegal artisanal refineries alive.

Speaking during a visit to Punch Nigeria Limited, the Director of Information at the Naval Headquarters, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, noted that host communities, traditional rulers and other leaders in the region had a role to play in the reorientation of the perpetrators, especially young people.

He said the menace posed serious danger to the environment and was impacting negatively on the country’s revenue.

With about 400,000 barrels of crude oil said to be stolen daily, the rate of oil theft in the country has been described by many persons and organisations as economic sabotage, given the way it erodes the country’s revenue from crude oil export, the mainstay of the country’s economy. Owing to the menace, Nigeria has been unable to meet its quota as allocated by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

While OPEC increased the country’s crude oil output quota from 1.799 million barrels per day in July 2022 to 1.826 million barrels per day in August from a peak of 2.4 million bpd previously, the country’s oil production dropped from 1,083,899 bpd in July to 972,394 bpd in August.

On account of the dwindling revenue fuelled by the low oil production, Nigeria has resorted to frequent borrowings, with the country’s debt stock standing at over N41tn, a development that has fueled concerns by many citizens and organisations.

Ayo-Vaughan explained, “Since Operation Dakatar de Barawo commenced on April 1, 2022, the illegal refining sites that we have destroyed so far are 347, and we have arrested 143 suspects till date. The perpetrators are usually locals recruited by the main perpetrators in the crime and the proliferation of the illegal refining sites is in many ways fueling the theft because it’s like a symbiotic relationship.

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“Access to oil supply through pipeline vandalism keeps the illegal artisanal refineries alive.”

Meanwhile, speaking on reports that about 400,000 barrels of crude oil were being stolen daily, Ayo-Vaughan said it was impossible for such to be stolen through the Nigerian waters every day.

He stated, “Yes, we have the challenge of crude oil theft, but there has been a lot of wrong information in the media, particularly in the electronic media. I think the narrative has changed from 400,000 barrels to 100,000 barrels. Recently, the Managing Director of Agip Oil Company and the MD of Total met separately with the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, at the naval headquarters to interact with him.

“At one time, reports said it was 400,000 bpd. But if you look at what 400,000 barrels translate to, it’s a lot. I know a barrel is about 158.9 litres. So, 100,000 barrels translate to about 15.8 million litres. That is for 100,000 barrels only. The normal tanker takes between 30,000 and 60,000 litres. There is no tanker that takes more than 80,000 litres.

“When you want to move out that quantity of crude, there are no pipelines that run beyond the terminals as we speak. So, the only place this theft can take place is at the terminals and within the creeks where people can vandalise the pipelines. The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (Mele Kyari) said they even discovered that some people siphon the oil and store it in churches and mosques. That’s from their local intelligence.

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“People siphon this crude and supply the illegal refineries. The first issue; if you are saying Nigeria loses about 100,000 barrels per day, which translates to about 15 million litres; for you to lift that quantity of oil, you need to have perhaps a five-tonne barge that will have to go about 3,000-plus trips a day to the high sea. The movement of 3,000 barges cannot take place like that.”

He said the navy was not the only security agency in the creeks, adding that there were soldiers, personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and marine police.

The naval spokesman stated, “Are we saying all these people will allow the movement of 3,000 barges in one day, not to talk of two days, one week or a month? Honestly, it is practically impossible.

“That is my opinion and that is the stand of the navy; that to move 3,000 barges in a day to convey 100,000 barrels is practically impossible.”

When asked where the shortage could be coming from, he said it would be the illegal refiners.

He added, “What it means is that whatever is stolen in the creeks is used to supply the local illegal refineries and the navy has been hard on the operators of those refineries. Some of the things we hear as losses or thefts are actually the inability to transport the crude from the point of exploration through the pipelines.

“There is a pipeline called the Trans-Niger pipeline. One of the heads of international oil companies said for a long time they had to shut down that pipeline because they found that when they open it, what gets to the terminal or what gets to the destination was not what was released, so there is a lot of stealing.

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“This brings the aspect of the will and persuasion of the political leaders in the Niger Delta to talk to their people. Apart from the loss, the environmental impact is huge; there are some areas where 10 to 15 acres of land are burnt and vegetation is gone.”

He attributed air pollution in the region largely to the activities of illegal refiners, saying the illegal activity informed why the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, led a team to destroy some illegal refineries in some parts of the state; while onshore, the navy was doing everything it could.

Ayo-Vaughan also called on international oil companies to always seal the oil wells that were no longer commercially viable, saying the neglect of such oil wells was attracting illegal refiners.

He added, “There is the aspect of the political leaders and the International Oil Companies. The IOCs are the ones that drill the oil wells. When the oil wells are no longer commercially viable, according to international best practices, you are to seal them, but it’s not that the wells are dry. Those wells have not been sealed and we have identified them in the creeks.

“When they don’t seal the oil wells, they are a source for the illegal artisanal refiners. So, there are many sides to it. The Chief of Naval Staff engages regularly with the NNPCL GMD so that as a regulatory body, they compel the IOCs to do the needful. The navy also has put in place checks to identify any person that compromises or becomes complacent in any way.”

He explained that there were about 3,000 creeks in Delta State and that the locals, using their knowledge of the area more than the security agents, were the ones siphoning the fuel.

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Tribunal verdict, victory for democracy and Enugu, says Gov Mbah



Enugu State Governor, Dr Peter Mbah

…extends hands of fellowship to opposition
…restates commitment to campaign promises

Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has lauded the decision of the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which dismissed the petitions of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and the Labour Party (LP) candidates challenging his victory in the March 18, 2023 governorship election, describing the decision as victory for democracy and the people of Enugu State.

Dr. Mbah, who also extended hands of fellowship to the opposition candidates and their political parties, said the task to build Enugu remained a collective one, adding that he was committed to working with all, irrespective of political persuasions.

The tribunal chaired by Justice Kudirat Akano, had earlier in the day dismissed the petitions of the governorship candidate of the PRP, Chris Agu, and the candidate of the LP, Chijioke Edeoga.

Addressing the state, at the Government House, Enugu, Mbah said: “This is another memorable day in the anal of our dear state, as the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal affirmed the mandate, which you freely gave to us on 18th of March this year.

“This is victory for Ndi Enugu. It is also victory for democracy.

“It is a victory for massive development for Ndi Enugu. It is a victory for exponential growth for Ndi Enugu. It is a victory for Enugu’s greatness. It is a victory for the ban on Monday sit-at-home. It is also victory for our determination to restore water in all your homes in the next 68 days”.

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While thanking God for making the victory possible, Dr. Mbah also commended the tribunal for painstakingly dissecting the petitions and “for coming out with fair and just decision that resonates with Ndi Enugu”.

According to him, “the verdict has further strengthened our confidence in the judiciary as the temple of justice and the last hope of the common man”.

Extending hands of fellowship to his opponents, Mbah said: “There is time for everything under the sun. There is time to strive and time to unite. We all put ourselves forward to serve Ndi Enugu. The people have spoken and the tribunal has also affirmed. If service was the motivation, then it is time to rise above partisanship and come together because there is so much work to be done.

“Our arms are wide open and I beckon on my brothers, who ran this race with us, to join us in the onerous task of building a new Enugu State of our dreams.

“In the same vein, I enjoin all our supporters to be magnanimous in victory. Politics is over. Governance began on 29th May when we were inaugurated. It is time to unite”.

Governor Mbah, who reiterated his resolve to deliver on his campaign promises, further stressed that the tribunal’s decision was an elixir to do more, and urged the people to hold him to account on those promises.

“Once more, I immensely thank the good people of Enugu State, who not only believed in us, but also vested their mandate in us. Above all also above, they have stood by us every step of the way.

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“I want to assure them that I will work for them with every fibre of my being. I stand by every campaign promise I made as espoused in our Statement of Purpose. I also stand by the Citizens Charter that I executed on my first day in office. The Enugu people should hold me to account. I will not let them down”, he concluded.

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Gunmen kill ASP, Inspector in Enugu



Gunmen yet to be identified have allegedly killed two police officers in Enugu State in an ambush.

The officers were killed when the hoodlums ambushed a mobile police patrol team Wednesday evening.

The incident happened at about 7:30 pm along the Udi-Ozalla Road as the Operation Restore Peace Enugu team was on routine patrol.

The victims were identified as Danjuma Joseph, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and Inspector Abu Elamaje.

The source hinted that they were rushed to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Ituku-Ozalla for treatment but were confirmed dead by doctors on duty.

Another officer, Inspector Udeme Udomeng, who sustained bullet wounds, was treated and discharged.

Daily Sun quoted a source in the command as saying that “MINE and other command tactical teams reinforced at the area of incident on cordon and search operation for possible arrest of suspects. Further development shall be communicated.”

It is unclear whether the policemen were killed by the kidnappers who have been on rampage in different parts of the State or another set of hoodlums.

The Advocate reports that about eight security operatives were ambushed and killed in Imo State last weekend.

Efforts to speak with the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Enugu State Police Command, DSP Daniel Ndukwe on the development was unsuccessful by press time as he did not answer the calls.

A text message sent to him has also not been replied as of the time of filing this report.

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BREAKING: Tribunal dismisses Edeoga, LP’s petition, affirms Mbah’s election as Enugu Governor



Enugu State Governor, Dr. Peter Mbah

…Edeoga’s petition lacks merit

The Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu has upheld the election of Dr. Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the March 18 election in the state.

Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party (LP) had approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration on the grounds that Mbah wasn’t qualified to stand for the election.

He alleged that he forged his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC certificate and cases of over-voting in Udenu, Nkanu East and Enugu East local government areas.

The Tribunal chaired by Justice Kudirat Murayo Akano dismissed all grounds of petition saying his petition lacked merit.

The panel held that NYSC isn’t a requirement for contesting for the office of the Governor and there’s no where that the NYSC Certificate was attached to the documents Mbah submitted to INEC by the respondent.

On the issue of forging NYSC Certificate, the panel discountenanced all the evidences by the DSS, NYSC official and others because they weren’t in compliance with paragraph 4, sub-section 5D of the evidence act.

Only the witness of the pw26 which was described as a hearsay by the panel and those not help the petitioners and therefore resolved the issue of Certificate Forgery in favour of Mbah.

On the issue of wrong computation of results of the Labour Party in Udenu local government, the panel said they petitioners failed to prove his case and the witnesses they called gave the same report from different polling units and wards and wondered why their testimonies are the same even from different locations.

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The panel also said that the witnesses presented by the Labour Party weren’t duly accredited agents by INEC and makes their testimony invalid.

The panel based on the witnesses from the right agents in 3 polling units, deducted 51 votes from PDP and added same to Labour Party.

The tribunal held that the deduction isn’t enough to Overturn the election of Mbah.

In Amagu polling unit in Nkanu East the panel cancelled the votes for all parties because the witness pw10 proved he was there and the right person.

In the remaining 11 polling units, the tribunal held that the witnesses didn’t sign the result sheet and their witnesses is discountenanced because they can’t prove they were party agents

After resolving all the matter, the tribunal dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.

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