Posted by Transport & Business Express | 10 July 2012 | 3,899 times
Hard times await oil thieves in Abia State as the state government has rolled out its arsenal to rout the cartel of pipeline vandals and oil bunkers with effect from today.
Governor Theodore Orji announced this today at a meeting with traditional rulers from Ukwa East and Osisioma local government areas.
The Abia helmsman disclosed that a bill to make oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the state capital offences was already before the House of Assembly and would soon become law.
Transport & Business Express reports that crude oil is deposited in Ukwa West which qualifies Abia to belong to the Niger Delta states while Osisioma hosts the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depot that serves the South East.
Orji said his government resolved to get ruthless with oil thieves because the state was losing huge revenue as their activities have left Abia with zero allocation from the 13 per cent oil derivation fund for some months just as it has lost its ranking as an oil producing state.
The governor said intelligence reports indicate that some royal fathers in Ukwa West and members of security agencies were part of the oil theft cartel.
He advised traditional rulers involved in pipeline vandalism and stealing of crude to search their conscience and refrain from the act, warning that anybody caught would be punished.
“We have gotten petitions accusing traditional rulers of being involved. We have investigated and found this out. Search your conscience. Our mercy ends as you are leaving this venue of our meeting and anyone of you caught would be embarrassed publicly. This is the last warning,” the governor said.
“We have to face this thing (oil theft) squarely. If not, we will be seen to be weak. We have the power to stop it,” he added.
He recalled that during the kidnapping era when government was making appeals for people to desist from the dastardly act, people mistook it for weakness until government rolled out its weighty arsenal to crush kidnapping.
The governor while appealing to traditional rulers to prevail on their subjects to turn away from pipeline vandalism, said: “You have to help government to tackle this pipeline vandalism. It is patriotic of you if you love Abia to help it progress. If the revenue profile of the state keeps dwindling, it will come to a point that I can’t pay salaries and there will be crises. But if we stop it, we will have enough allocation for salaries and development projects.”
He said that it was to carter to for the needs and cushion the adverse environmental effects oil exploration and exploitation activities on the oil-producing communities that Abia State Oil Producing Development Commission (ASOPADEC) was set up, pointing out that the agency has done well in empowering that youths, renovating schools and providing infrastructure in these communities.
In their separate responses, Eze Ikechukwu Chiavogilefu and Eze John Ahuruonye, Chairmen of Osisioma and Ukwa West Council of Traditional Rulers respectively, assured the governor of their support and cooperation in the fight against oil thieves in the state.
While Eze Chiavogilefu sought the cooperation of security agencies and petroleum products marketers at NNPC Osisioma depot, Eze Ahuruonye informed the governor that stakeholders in Ukwa West have held several sensitisation fora aimed at dissuading their youths from the condemnable act. The monarchs later went into a closed door meeting with the governor.
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