A civic group has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately revoke the multi-billion Naira pipeline protection and waterways security contract awarded a company linked to ex-Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, who is also known as Tompolo.
The Civil Society Network Against Corruption,CSNAC, in a statement released on Sunday,said it is unfortunate that despite the huge amount of money the immediate past administration expended on the contract yearly, “the water ways are still largely insecure and thousands of barrels of crude oil are still lost daily in oil theft and pipeline vandalisation.”
Global West Vessel Specialist Agency Ltd, a company linked to Tompolo, secured the $103 million contract during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Tompolo was one of the Niger Delta militants who accepted the Nigerian government’s amnesty programme in 2010. The contract and other similar ones given to Global West and other companies linked to the ex-militants has raised controversy since they were made public. The ex-militants had threatened mass violence if Mr. Jonathan, who is also from the Niger Delta region, was not re-elected president, but later backed down from the threat.
The chairman of CSNAC, Olanrewaju Suraju, said there could be no justification for the newly inaugurated Buhari administration to continue the contract when more crude oil has been lost to pirates and other oil thieves since the contract was awarded.
“As a matter of fact, crude oil theft increased from 250,000 barrels/day before the contract to 400,000 barrels/day since the ceding of Nigeria’s territorial water to a private company without any record of experience in similar service,” he said.
Mr. Suraju recalled that in 2012, the Goodluck Jonathan administration signed a $103 million contract with Global West to protect the country’s maritime areas and stop piracy and oil theft, a job he explained was the primary function of the country’s navy as spelt out in the constitution. He quoted the pioneer chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Ahmed Ramalan, as saying the agency, through which the contract was issued, pays Tompolo N1.5 billion monthly for the pipeline protection contract. The ex-maritime chief also called for the contract to be revoked as a means of revamping the economy.
Similarly, Mr Suraju said other ex-militants under the aegis of the National Coalition of Niger-Delta Ex-agitators have also called for the contract to be reviewed.
The anti-corruption coalition argued that since “the Nigerian Navy in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies were established to maintain security of the Federation and her waters,” it is “improper delegation of duty to assign such an enormous task to a private company instead of equipping the relevant agencies to enable them carry out their constitutional role effectively.”
“CSNAC is therefore by this petition demanding the immediate revocation of the said contract and the transfer of the said assignment to the Nigerian Navy and other relevant law enforcement agencies,” Mr. Suraju said.
“Also, the Nigerian Navy and other law enforcement agencies should be equipped with the necessary equipments and resources required to enable them appropriately safeguard our waterways, in order to curb crude oil theft and pipeline vandalisation.
“That way, our economy would experience tremendous revamp as the profit that will be made from the sale of crude oil which hitherto would have be lost can be utilised for the benefit of the Nigerian people.”