The Nigerian Senate met with service chiefs over Islamist attacks in north.
The Senate President, David Mark, said on Wednesday that he will readily endorse a penalty of death for perpetrators of oil theft, commonly called bunkering, as four senate committees opened hearings on the Petroleum Industry Bill driving to overhaul the oil sector.
Mr. Mark’s comments came as senators, separately, held a six-hour closed door meeting with the service chiefs over escalating violence that has seen dozens killed within the past weeks, mainly in the northern states.
The meeting was attended by the Chief of Defence Staff, Rear admiral Ola Ibrahim, Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuke ihejirika, Chief of Naval staff, Rear Admiral Dele Ezeobi, Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Alex Barde and the Director of the State Security Services, Ita Ekpenyong. The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, was absent.
Senate spokesperson, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the talk was to know “what the problems are and also to be able to work with the security agencies to bring the very serious security problems we have to possible resolution.” He refused to provide further details of the briefing, and the senate’s position.
At the inauguration of a joint committee hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bill, Mr. Mark accused “big men” in the country of sponsoring massive oil theft that has seen reasonable cuts in oil production levels.
He said oil theft was becoming a “major embarrassment” for the nation, and the PIB must be crafted to curb that.
“The bill must ensure that the current pace of oil theft is minimized to the barest minimum. It appears we are beginning to get bad names in the international community. Few individuals must not make us earn such bad names,” Mr. Mark said.
“The law must prescribe huge punishment that will serve as deterrent. If it will attract death penalty, I am ready for it, I will endorse it. Oil theft cannot be done with a tea cup, big men involved in it are powerful, it is unusual situation that requires unusual solution.”
Mr. Mark added that the bill be made to expand the frontier of oil exploration beyond the Niger Delta region, adding that by so doing, Nigeria’s economy will get a boost and incidences of agitation from various regions will be reduced.