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NNPC taps judiciary to tackle crude oil theft, calls for special court, swift hearing

NNPC’s Operations: Interrogating ‘opacity’ tag and other matters

In a bid to boost the country’s oil and gas industry as an enabler of national economic and industrial growth, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, has called for the support of the judiciary in tackling the twin challenges of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC, made the call at the National Judges Capacity Building Workshop on the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and INVESTIN 234, on Thursday in Abuja.

In his goodwill message, the GCEO stated that the gains of the PIA have been severely undermined by crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism and urged the judiciary to consider the creation of a special court to try offences related to crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism or granting accelerated hearings to such cases.

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According to him, the role of the judiciary was critical to the success of the efforts of the various security arrangements put in place by NNPC, the law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders in the industry.

“In particular, is the recommendation that a special court be created to try those offences as they hinge on our survival as a country and/or for such trials to be conducted under an accelerated hearing process by the issuance of Practice Directions to that effect, with concomitant sanctions to deter would-be offenders,” Kyari stated.

Two months ago, Abbas Tajudeen, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, lamented that Nigeria loses an estimated 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day to oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and other forms of criminality.

According to Tajudeen, the menace has culminated in revenue losses estimated at N1.29 trillion annually. “Unfortunately, it is estimated that Nigeria loses over 300,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and other forms of criminality. This has led to revenue losses estimated at N1.29 trillion annually.

“Therefore, concerned about the adverse effects of oil theft in Nigeria, I inaugurated a special committee on Crude Oil Theft Losses on November 22, 2023, to determine decisive remedial actions to be taken.”

Meanwhile, the GCEO has called on the judiciary to accelerate hearings on criminal cases in their courts, through timely determination of the criminal charges and imposing adequate punishments and sanctions on culprits to serve as deterrence to others.

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He said that NNPC remains committed to collaborating with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the PIA, adding that “together, we can ensure that the benefits of our natural resources are maximised for the economic and social development of our country.”

Kyari also commended Olukayode Ariwoola, the Chief Justice of the Federation, and the organisers of the workshop for extending the invitation to him and the opportunity to deliver a goodwill message at the workshop.