Tony Akowe, Abuja
SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on Tuesday said the country is losing 400,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) amounting to about $20.4 billion annually to theft.
But the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation said there was no record of the quantity of oil lost daily to crude theft.
The NNPC alleged that oil theft was caused by criminality and historic neglect of the host communities.
The Speaker, who spoke at a public investigative hearing on oil theft, described the practice as the worst form of economic sabotage for which there can be no excuse.
Gbajabiamila said: “Oil theft and the attendant damage to oil and gas assets across the country destroys the environment, puts the lives of our citizens at risk and undercuts government revenue and compromises government’s ability to meet our nation’s developmental challenges.
“It is the worst kind of economic sabotage for which there is no viable defence or excuse. Those who engage in these acts of sabotage do so with the full awareness that their actions are inimical to the continued viability of the Nigerian state, yet they persist.
“Their persistence in this nefarious conduct must motivate the rest of us who bear the consequences of their actions to act in unison to identify those responsible and ensure that they are fully held accountable as allowed by law.
“However, beyond that, we have a responsibility to conduct a more holistic assessment to understand whatever underlying factors have caused this action to continue and the perpetrators to continue to benefit therefrom.
“It is estimated in some quarters that crude oil theft in Nigeria costs us about 400,000 barrels per day. This is equal to a revenue loss of about $1.7 billion per month and $20.4 billion annually.’’