The Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, a pan-Ijaw socio-cultural organization, has urged the Chief of Naval Staff to match words with action by checking oil theft in the Niger Delta.
According to the IYC, the threat by Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Jubrin, on the menace of oil theft was ‘rhetoric.’
Mr. Jubrin had on Thursday, at a meeting with chief executives of oil companies, threatened to punish security officers and to name multinational companies complicit in crude theft.
In a statement issued in Yenagoa on Sunday, Eric Omare, the IYC spokesperson, urged the Naval chief to take drastic measures to curtail the menace of oil theft.
“The IYC is not impressed by the mere threat issued by the Chief of Naval Staff rather than taking drastic actions to arrest the ongoing environmental genocide in the Niger Delta called ‘oil theft’.
“The statement by the Chief of Naval Staff is nothing other than the usual rhetoric of government and security agencies to the problem of oil theft.
“We wish to state for the umpteenth time that the people involved in the business of oil scam are top politicians, serving and retired military personnel, oil company executives and their foreign collaborators.
“The Niger-Delta locals are used as artisans.
“The involvement of these high profiled persons in the business of oil theft is the reason why the government and security agencies have not been able to summon the courage and political will to bring oil theft to a stop.
“The resultant effect of this government’s dereliction of duty and security agencies complicity in oil theft is massive despoliation of the Niger-Delta environment,” the spokesperson said.
The IYC said it regretted that the pollution associated with oil theft had polluted the flora and fauna of the Niger-Delta which the predominantly fishing and farming people depend on; resulting to diminished catch for fishermen and low yield to farmers..
Mr. Omare explained that the pollution by oil theft was worsened by the crude methods deployed by security agencies who usually spill the oil into the environment in the process of destroying materials used for oil theft.
“Though the security agencies may be celebrating this primitive approach of burning camps and spilling oil as a success in the fight against oil theft,” the group said. “In actual fact it has caused more damage to the Niger-Delta environment than addressing the problem of oil theft.”
The IYC urged the federal government to initiate a community based oil facilities surveillance programme which would ensure that each community takes the responsibility for the protection of oil facilities within its domain.
It suggested that the surveillance scheme should use the template of the amnesty programme with the involvement of critical stakeholders in the Niger-Delta.
It argued that no one could protect oil facilities better than the Niger Delta people and communities.