On the reinvigorated onslaught against oil vandals and economic saboteurs
By Comrade Ben Abdul
Menace of crude oil thefts remains one of the most obvious examples of Nigerian economic sabotage in modern times. Since the efforts made by successive governments to bring the mysterious cartels responsible for the heinous economic crime to justice have been ineffective, this economic malignancy has been quietly devouring the nation’s fortunes for years.
A review of media reports on oil theft and bunkering shows that the media space is overrun with negative stories that quote fictitious numbers about the number of barrels stolen daily or monthly and their dollar equivalents, despite the fact that there have been no conclusive and trustworthy estimates of the total amount of crude oil stolen on a daily or monthly basis. While it is critical to understand the amount of money Nigeria loses to oil theft and vandalism, it is also crucial to draw attention to the urgent measures taken by the government to combat the problem.
The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) is one government institution that has been working extremely hard and sternly to put an end to the actions of economic jackals who have been taking resources that could have been used for the benefit of the majority. Even though the cartels that steal crude oil are notorious for being highly organized and sophisticated, the creation of the Inspector-General of Police Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering (IGP-STFPIB) and the subsequent appointment of ACP L L Garba to lead the special unit are bringing elixir of hope and assurance that oil theft in the country will soon become a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, recent results reported by the special team demonstrate that the once surreptitious oil thefts can be wiped out through a well-planned and organized effort.
During the briefing of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee to Investigate Oil Lifting, Theft and the Impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues on Wednesday 21 September, 2022, a report of the activities of the Task Force was presented and the report shows a deliberately sustained fight with salient achievements. Some of the achievements according to the Police Force, include “the seizure of 1,301,020 litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), 135,000 litres of crude oil, 4,900 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS), 45,000 litres of engine oil, and 123 Tankers, with 52 cases currently under prosecution nationwide.”
The report also adds that the “Operatives of the IGP-STFPIB under the Command of ACP Garba, has equally latched onto the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Command and Control Centre Portal where actionable intelligence have been received and acted upon leading to several operational successes”
Since the positive news of the success stories of the special unit of the Police Force crept into the public domain, children of mischief and hate-mongers have suddenly gone berserk, disseminating false information about the police force with the sole goal of misleading members of the public. Despite the blurring of the lines between truth and falsehoods due to the activities of fifth columnists, modern Nigerians are more informed and can tell the difference between the two. Nigerians are also aware that if corruption is properly tackled, it is not anticipated that corrupt people will remain in limbo while having their source of survival cut off.
The oil theft cartels have been utilizing certain anonymous characters to wage a fictitious fight with the police, as was to be expected. They strategically use media organisations with plummeting reputation and whose credibility has now been damaged by avarice and intrusion. One of such monochromatic pieces was allegedly written by “Concerned Nigerians” and published by Sahara Reporters. The newspaper once again violated a fundamental rule of journalistic ethics by posting a petition that was purportedly written by anonymous, faceless individuals. People frequently question whether Sahara Reporters fact-checks, looks into, and verifies anything it publishes. Any petition created anonymously is not deserving of public attention, and news outlets that allow for such false publications should never be taken seriously. They should however note that if their intention is to dampen the morale of the force in its current reinvigorated onslaught against economic saboteurs, vandals and wicked elements, they have failed woefully.
Mr Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) knew why he appointed ACP L L Garba to head the Police Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering. ACP Garba, a valiant and fearless officer, has proven to be a disciplined and reliable officer with a track record of excellence which he demonstrated in the positions he had held. He has held a number of operational leadership roles, such as Commanding Officer of the Special Protection Unit (SPU) Bases 5 in Benin, 7 in Abuja, and 2 in Lagos, and in all of these, ACP Garba left proven and enviable track records.
The fight against economic saboteurs and other criminal elements is too important to be left in the hands of police and other law enforcement agencies alone. If Nigeria fails, we are all to blame. Fighting crime and criminality is therefore our collective responsibility.
– Comrade Ben Abdul, public affairs analyst writes from Karu Abuja