17 April 2015, Lagos – The duo of Universal Energy Resources Limited and Mbo community of Akwa Ibom state, have squared off over allegation of the former’s stealing of crude oil from the area.
In a disparate submission, however, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) handed down a verdict of guilt on Universal Energy.
It all started when the Mbo Youth Development Association (MYDA) presented its submission on the matter noting that although it hinges on the event of February 28 when it accosted five tanks laden with crude oil, the alleged criminal activities of the oil company pre-dates that event.
“We will categorically state here that Universal Energy Resources Limted has in the past and till now been diverting production through road tanks,” an MYDA submission reads.
But the oil company under examination kicked against the petition observing that the community’s claim that there was no cordial relationship between them was false, just as its decision to bring the matter before the House was not in line with the required procedure of first reporting such an incident to the police.
Representatives of Universal Energy insisted that the relationship between their company and the community was as enshrined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between them.
But Elder Emmanuel Effiong replied that although the community was aware of one MoU with the company, he called on the lawmakers not to be derailed from the thrust of the investigation, which is the alleged diversion of crude oil to an unknown destination.
But as one of the lawmakers reminded the invited guests of the crux of the matter and called for proper concentration on the topic of the probe, the company’s community relations officer equally threw another question at the youth representative.
She said the company had no knowledge of any frosty relationship with the community, since the community’s representatives had never reported any concern to the company during any of their quarterly meetings.
Chairman of the committee, Friday Itula then intervened by explaining that submissions of both the youth and the company would be dissected and analysed by the committee, and presented their final report to the House.
In his opening address at the hearing Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal expressed worries over the continued diversion of crude oil, bunkering and vandalism of oil pipelines.
According to him, such acts constitute major sabotage to the nation’s economy.
Represented by Hon. Ishaka Bawa, the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal said: “given the fact that oil sector is very crucial in the Nigeria economy, there is the dire need for an appropriate and desirable production and export policy for the sector.
“In Nigeria, though crude oil has contributed largely to the economy, the revenue has not been used and accounted for.
“Diversion of crude oil, bunkering and vandalism of oil pipelines constitute major leakage and economic sabotage to the nation,’’ Tambuwal said.
– This Day