26 January 2016, Lagos – The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday said the business of illegal oil bunkering in the country was being driven by Nigerians.
Kachikwu, who doubles as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, stated this during a visit to an illegal oil bunkering site at Robert-Victor village, popularly called ‘Idi Mango’ offshore Lagos.
At the community, where the Atlas Cove pipelines run through, many stacks of jerry cans were found allegedly being used by illegal bunkers to smuggle petroleum products out of the country through the Atlantic Ocean.
Eight suspected vandals comprising three Nigerians, three Ghanaians, one Togolese and one Beninoise were arrested by the private pipeline surveillance security outfit employed by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC, to monitor and patrol oil pipelines.
Kachikwu, who described the development as very frustrating, said, “This is a massive operation as you can see. This is like moving 200 to 300 trucks through jerry cans back into the water to different countries like Ghana and Togo.
“This is a good discovery. But how many more of this do we have? We don’t know. It is an eye-opener for us. But it is very frustrating.”
On what steps should be taken, the minister said, “I wish I have an immediate solution to this. I have got to think through the statistics of the discovery and come up with some solutions. But clearly, a lot more needs to be done.
“We discovered this through the efforts of our contractors, our security personnel and all that, but a lot more effort, obviously, needs to go into securing this sort of places. The difficulty you have is that the more you secure one, the more others are opened. The solutions are long-term; it is not just an issue of sealing up a place. We have got to go back and think holistically about what to do, for example, on the pipelines.”
According to the minister, the issue of saving Nigerian assets is not the responsibility of the NNPC and security forces alone, but that every citizen.
He said, “The country has massive problems and Nigerians have got to start realising that the solutions to Nigeria’s problems are Nigerians. Nigerians set up all these stuffs. Nigerians make it work. Even if we say that they are Ghanaians and Togolese, but they are coming here through the instrumentation of Nigerians, who are the kingpins.
“So, all of us have got to become vigilant, play our own due role in being honest to the country and feeling a sense of responsibility to the nation.”
According to the security outfit, 20 vehicles were confiscated from the vandals, with over 1,000 jerry cans filled with petroleum products, as well as pipeline bursting equipment and several generators.
The suspected vandals have been kept in the custody of the Nigerian Naval Base, Western Command, Apapa while awaiting further interrogation.