Buhari gives military ultimatum to end oil theft

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has ordered security agencies to eradicate crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta before May 29.

He said the Federal Government could no longer tolerate the criminality.

Buhari gave the directive through the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, while addressing troops of the Joint Task Force Operation Delta Safe in Effurum, Delta State, and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday.

Sylva was quoted in a statement issued in Abuja by his media aide, Horatius Egua, as saying, “Mr. President has mandated us to eradicate crude oil theft. He has directed that no litre of crude oil should be stolen across the country again, especially in the South-South.

“He wants crude oil theft completely eliminated by May 29, 2023, as one of the legacies of his government. This is the message from Mr President. We are not where we want to be, but we are happy at what we are seeing.”

Prior to the renewed efforts of the Federal Government in tackling the menace of crude oil thieves, the nation’s daily crude oil production was about 900,000 barrels per day.

But with the recent improvements in security efforts, there has been an increase in oil output, as production has risen to about 1.5 million barrels per day, according to the statement.

Sylva added, “I am happy to hear that moral is high here. We were here a few months ago to hand over the mandate of Mr. President to you and that is to ensure that there is zero tolerance for crude oil theft in the region.

“We want to thank you for what you have done so far, but there is still more to be done for us to achieve 100 per cent. We are here to ask you to redouble your efforts so that we will be able to tell Nigerians and the President that we have zero tolerance for crude oil theft.”

He said when the team visited the region about three months ago on the mandate of the President, the situation was very disturbing.

On his part, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, said the Federation Government had set up a special court to expedite the trials of criminals involved in oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.

Kyari said he was sure that full confidence would be restored in crude oil production in the shortest possible time in Nigeria.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, urged the troops to remain steadfast in the campaign to stamp out crude oil theft in Nigeria.

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