By G9ija…

After the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in Oloibiri Bayelsa State, the challenge of oil theft has persisted untamed. From the creeks in Delta to those in Bayelsa State, the illegal business of oil bunkering lingers.

Year after year, oil theft has continued to be a source of worry for the Nigerian government.

Meanwhile, there has been a fresh onslaught against perpetrators of oil bunkering and vandalism in the Niger Delta region, led by Operatives of Tantita Security Services Limited (TSSL), a company owned by ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.

Tompolo had recently told reporters that there are 58 illegal points in Delta and Bayelsa States where crude oil is being stolen.

However, speaking on the recent surge against oil theft, an expert has told News correspondents that the ‘renewed’ clampdown could be a deliberate effort by the federal government to justify its oil revenue shortfall in the period under review.

In the first quarter of this year, the federal government said the country lost N1.3 trillion to crude oil vandalism and theft in the Niger Delta region.

Another government figure has it that monthly, the country loses over N304 billion naira to oil theft and vandalism.

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) revealed that most oil theft activities emanate from Bonny Terminal Network, Forcados Terminal Network, and Brass Terminal Network. The Implication of the activities of oil theft has far-reaching negative effects on the Nigerian economy.

Nigeria’s frequent failure to meet its oil production quota set by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); Revenue depletion; environmental degradation is the evidential implication of oil theft.

Reacting to the development in a chat with DAILY POST on Friday, an oil and gas analyst, Mr. Charles Majomi said the amount of oil theft taking place in the Niger Delta creeks cannot be done without the connivance of senior government officials in Nigeria.

He disclosed that if the government genuinely wants to tackle the menace, a transparent and thorough investigation by third parties, unconnected to the state apparatus should be set up.

“One has to wonder at the timing. This scourge did not start today and has been ongoing for years. So it might be. Coupled with the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any credible ongoing efforts to bring the culprits to book”, Majomi noted.

As a way out, he suggested, “A transparent and thorough investigation by third parties, unconnected to the apparatus of State.

“If, as we have been made to believe, this is an industrial scale exercise comprising multiple elements from the security services, the NNPC, and International Oil Companies (IOCs), it hardly makes sense for those same elements to be the ones conducting the investigation.