A respected leader of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and delegate to the National Conference, Chief Edwin Clark has called on the Government of Nigeria to revoke pipeline security contracts awarded to ex-militant leaders, including Ekpemukpolo, alias Tompolo, and Asari Dokubo.
Chief Clark said on the floor of the National onference: “I don’t know why it (the contract) was given to Tompolo and Asari Dokubo. Youth can protect our pipelines. Today, Tompolo and Asari Dokubo are having the contracts. They are not the ones doing the jobs. Their principals are there. What has stopped us from refining our petrol is corruption, corruption and corruption.”
He said that the contracts for the protection of oil installations should rather be awarded to youth and communities where such installations are located, observing that oil theft has increased since oil pipeline and maritime protection contracts were awarded to the former militant leaders.
“We are talking about oil theft and I have always said there will be no more illegal bunkering if the youth are involved in the protection of oil installations.
“While oil companies employ contractors to guard pipelines, community leaders insist the job be given to local contractors. I went and said to the President, why not give this job to youths or the communities.
“Every community that fails to do its job will be sanctioned. Nothing was done until recently. I don’t know why it was given to Tompolo and Asari Dokubo. Youth can protect our pipelines.
“If you get to a community where there are pipelines, gather the youth in that place and give them to job to protect the facility. You would have given jobs to the youth of that community and you would have stopped oil theft.
Tompolo is a former commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) while Alhaji Dokubo is the leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante Force NDVF). They are disbanded militants groups from the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
A Wall Street Journal report had disclosed that Nigeria’s contract pays over N3.6 billion to Tompolo, N1.44 billion to Dokubo, N560 million to Tom Ateke, and N560 million to Victor Ben, alias Boyloaf.
In 2011, the government had awarded a pipeline surveillance contract worth $103 million (N15 billion) to Tompolo’s Global West Vessel Specialists Limited in a deal that shocked many Nigerians.
Chief Clark also accused top military brass of involvement in illegal oil bunkering, adding that the trend started in early 70s during the oil boom, adding that the military officers in Niger Delta are involved in oil theft.
“I made this point to President Obasanjo and he asked Danjuma, who was Minister of Defense, to look through and he went and found that it was true. Some top military officers, both serving and retired are involved in illegal oil bunkering.
“I have suggested 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.”
Clark recalled that as Commissioner of Finance in the defunct Mid-Western State in 1972, he travelled with Shehu Shagari, who was then Federal Commissioner of Finance; to Forcados Terminal, where Nigeria crude oil was being exported.
While there, he said the team discovered that government officials were only interested in what comes to them, rather than protecting the interest of Nigeria.
He continued, “One hardly knew how much oil was being 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.
“We are talking about oil theft, I have always said that our young men at home do bucket bunkering. They have no facility, they lack the technology, but those who steal our oil are people who come from abroad. Have we forgotten the case where three admirals were fully involved? They were court marshaled.” [myad]