The Federal Government has acquired eight gunboats in an effort to combat crude oil theft in the country.
This was as it directed security operatives to clamp down on vandals and oil thieves sabotaging the nation’s economy.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola stated these while inaugurating the gunboats acquired for use by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Tuesday.
A statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Sola Fasure, also quoted him as directing the NSCDC to collaborate with other security agencies to end the scourge.
The statement partly read, “Those who steal crude oil not only deny the country of the much-needed revenue, they sell the stolen goods at discounted prices, well below the market value. This black market creates a glut and forces down the official price. They have therefore made Nigeria suffer the double jeopardy of loss in revenue and drop in value of the product.
“The President has given us the resources and the marching order to take the war to them. As a step in this direction, the Federal Government is taking adequate steps to equip relevant security agencies and, by extension, the NSCDC, which is the lead agency in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure,” the minister stated.
The Minister further stated that the government is not oblivious of the dangers crude oil theft portends for the country, stating that the value of such theft is estimated to be in the billions.
“In the latest estimate, billions of dollars are lost to oil thieves and vandals. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Federal Government is committed and determined to curb the menace of oil theft which is bleeding the economy mindlessly, a development which has led to a drop in the earnings of the government. This unhealthy development has equally led to environmental pollution and other health hazards recorded in places where crude and refined products have been unleashed on the environment from broken pipes.
“Government is not oblivious of the danger the above scenario poses to national security and socio-economic development. No responsible government would sit down helplessly and watch this reckless display of brigandage by a few unpatriotic and criminally minded individuals who put personal interest above any other consideration,”
Also, the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Abubakar Audi, declared the Corps’ readiness to put an end to pipeline vandalism and pillaging of the nation’s resources.