A new report detailing the complexities of ongoing massive oil theft in Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta says there is extensive evidence that some corrupt members of the Joint Task Force, JTF, actively participate and profit from oil theft and illegal oil refining.
The report, published by Stakeholder Democracy Network, SDN, in October this year, says the entire oil theft is carried out under the watch and protection of the JTF. The report is the first that explains the complexities of the oil theft business in the Niger Delta region and relied on observation and anonymized respondents.
JTF, a joint operation of Nigeria’s defence outfits, is currently trusted with protecting Nigeria’s oil investments and ensuring most physical oil theft is stopped.
The JTF was deployed in the region at the peak of youth restiveness in the Niger Delta to combat militants that almost crippled Nigeria’s oil production. But that approach failed, forcing the government to adopt an amnesty strategy to end the blockade on Nigeria’s oil production in 2009.
In January 2012, following the recession of militancy in the region, and the escalation of oil theft, the JTF’s mission in the region was restructured to fighting crude oil theft – Operation ‘Pulo Shield’.
But the SDN research suggests that a “relatively small number” of top ranking JTF officers have criminal ties to the tap point owners, oil theft unions and camps managers – the most profitable part of the chain.
The reports adds that at the top of the oil theft chain, the tapping point, the most lucrative part of the business chain, top ranking JTF officers own shares alongside technicians and couriers.
“A consortium typically made up of at least three key parties (security, technical capacity and operational access) own each tap point,” the report said. “During the tapping process, the JTF ensure the surrounding waterways are clear so workers can install the tap without disturbance.”
The research also suggests that lower ranking officers are criminally involved in the low earning segments of the business. They “share the relatively small “transportation taxes” from distributor vessels as a supplement to their official wages,” the report said.