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Govt Officials Conniving With Pipeline Vandals – Lawan

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The Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has accused government officials of conniving with criminals to vandalise Nigeria’s oil pipelines.

Lawan, who condemned the situation, called for sanction and prosecution of the affected persons.

In his remarks after the consideration of the report of the ad-hoc committee on pipeline explosions at yesterday’s plenary, Lawan directed the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to invite the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for a review of the current security measures for pipelines across the country.

He said that the National Assembly would amend the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Act to check the activities of pipeline vandals which often lead to explosions and deaths.

Lawan said that “our Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) should invite the NNPC with a view to knowing what they have been doing over the years to secure the pipelines; what measures are in place and whether there is need to review these agreements.

“This is a multi-billion dollar industry. People consciously do these things, it’s not an accident. Those who are caught in the fires or who come to scavenge are the ones who end up losing their lives. This is not acceptable.

“There must be sanctions, somebody will have to pay the price and of course, after these resolutions are sent to the executive arm of government, our committee must follow it up. When we have to amend the NOSDRA Act, this is something that we have to do expeditiously. We should do it because it will help in preventing or minimising the recurrence of these criminal acts,” Lawan said.

Earlier in his contribution to the debate on the report, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) blamed the activities of pipeline vandals on the officials of the NNPC.

The lawmaker called for the introduction of severe punishment for any official of the corporation caught conniving with pipeline vandals.

According to him, “If there is no punishment for any offence, the tendency that it will be repeated severally will be there. The people in NNPC must find those people and discipline them. I’m suggesting that the Senate Downstream Committee should follow up this issue to make sure that the people managing these pipelines face the music. We have to get these people and ensure that they are punished,” Utazi said.

The lawmaker also called for the amendment of the NOSDRA Act.

“Let us get all these laws concerned with the regulation of the petroleum industry amended holistically,” he added.

Senator Ibrahim Musa (APC, Jigawa North) urged the government to “focus on the criminal rings responsible for the initial pipeline breakage.”

Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC, Imo West), who described pipeline vandalism as an act of economic sabotage, called on the federal government to subject the surveillance of the facilities to contractual arrangements with private firms.

Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) accused the NNPC of conniving with vandals to sabotage the economy by encouraging their activities.

“This is not an act of negligence but connivance. The NNPC knows what to do and cannot claim ignorance. The NNPC knows from their office when a pipeline is vandalised. I want to support my colleagues that they should be punished,” he said.

The ad-hoc committee in the report said that the incidences of pipeline explosions in Rivers and Lagos States would have been avoided if the NNPC/Nigerian Pipeline Storage Company (NPSC) and the contractors monitoring the pipelines were proactive.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, said that both the NNPC/NPSC and the contractors were aware of the Komkom pipeline leakage in Rivers State, two days before the explosion but delayed in taking necessary action.

The lawmaker disclosed that both NNPC/NPSC and the Oilserv contractor were aware of the intended activity of the vandals and the leakage a week and a day respectively, before the Ijegun explosion in Lagos State.

He added that security personnel in connivance with NPSC staff collaborated with the vandals to siphon petroleum products from the pipelines.

After the consideration of the report, the Senate adopted all the 15 recommendations by the ad-hoc panel.

The Senate directed that the NNPC without further delay should embark on horizontal directional drilling (HDD) in re-laying pipelines, especially in identified hotspots where erosion has exposed them to the surface.

It also recommended that the NNPC involve members of the host communities in pipeline surveillance as an interim preventive measure.

The Senate further proposed the deployment of modern technology in pipeline surveillance and detection of leakages as well as the introduction of “cathodic prevention of the pipelines.”

The lawmakers asked the NNPC to refund to the treasury, the “outrageous” sum of N382.203 million it allegedly used in firefighting operation in Komkom and provide evidence of compliance to the Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector.

 

 

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