An elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has fingered both retired and serving military officers for illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region, saying that one hardly knew how much oil is taken away from Nigeria’s shores.
Clark, who made the allegation while speaking at the plenary of the National Conference on the report of the committee on Public Finance and Revenue, chaired by Alhaji Adamu Aliero, called for the removal of fuel subsidy.
Clark said when he discovered what was going on, he reported the case to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who directed his Minister of Defence, Theophilius Danjuma, to investigate.
Clark said: “The military officers who are in the Niger Delta have a hand in stealing this oil.
“I made this point to President Obasanjo and he asked Danjuma, who was there as Minister of Defence, to look through and he went and found that it was true.
“So, some of these military officers, either retired or serving officers, what I will suggest is that the troops in the Niger Delta should be changed from time to time.
“In doing so, you will find that the stealing of oil will be reduced.”
The Ijaw leader took delegates back memory lane and narrated how in 1972 as Commissioner for Finance in the defunct Mid-West State, he travelled with former President Shehu Shagari, who was then Federal Commissioner for Finance, to Forcados terminal where Nigeria’s crude oil was been exported and discovered that government officials were just interested in what comes to them than protecting the interest of Nigeria.
Clark informed the conference: “In 1972 as a Commissioner for Finance in the old Mid West, I travelled with President Shehu Shagari, who was the the Federal Commissioner of Finance, to Forcados Island where our crude was being exported.
“We discovered, in 1972, that the government officials who were there were more interested in what they can get than protecting the interest of Nigeria.
“That is, you hardly knew how much oil was taken away from our shores.
“It was published in the newspaper.
“Till today, I do believe that if you go to Forcados terminal, the same story will be told.”
The Delta State born elder statesman noted that the youths of the area only embark on bucket bunkering, which is on a small scale, as they don’t possess the technological know how required for such operation.
He went on to say that the real thieves are those who come from abroad.
Clark added: “Number two, we are talking about oil theft.
“I have always said that our young men at home do bucket bunkering.
“They have no facility, they also lack the technology, but those who steal this oil are people who come from abroad.
“Have we forgotten the case where three admirals were fully involved?
“They were court marshalled.”
Clark also advocated the inclusion of youths in a particular community in guiding oil pipelines, saying that he once approached President Obasanjo with such proposal.
He said: “Some of our pipelines are 50 years old and when they leak, they leak oil.
“I went to the Head of State at a time or Mr. President and asked him why not give this contract to the youth or the communities.
“Every community that fails to do its own should be sanctioned.
“It was agreed, but nothing was done until recently.
“I don’t know how it was given to some youths.
“But what is important is that if I come from a village where there is pipeline, let the youths in that place secure it and you have given them employment.
“It will prevent the stealing of oil.”