Former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on maritime matters; Mr. Leke Oyewole has expressed concern over the volume of Nigeria’s crude oil that is illegally taken to countries bordering Nigeria.
Oyewole who claimed to have just returned from a trip to some of these countries disclosed that smuggling of Nigeria’s crude oil is also fuelling the rate of pirate attacks on vessels across the sub-region.
He warned that one illegality begets another illegality, adding that if people are in the act of stealing crude oil, be sure that there are people that are waiting to outsmart them.
He also said that monies that cannot be paid through the Banks will also attract some banditry into the scene.
The former Presidential adviser also talked about the issue of imported petroleum products meant for Nigeria but which find their ways to other countries for onward shipment to Nigeria.
He said: “The rate at which our crude oil land in neighbouring countries is worrisome because one thing we should all know is that one illegality begets the other.
“If people are in the act of stealing crude oil, some of other ones will try to also outsmart them, monies that cannot be taken to the Bank will also attract some banditry into scene and one thing will lead to the other and so government must address that.
“The second thing I think the government need to also address is this issue of imported product meant for Nigeria, financed by Nigeria but landing in neighbouring countries.
“That must also be addressed because it does not only take away the job opportunities in terms of Ship-to-shop, STS, and mooring services to these countries, it has also been a major source of smuggling because when the Central Bank of Nigeria finances an import and the import goes to another countries, and a bit of it come to Nigeria, that to me is a major source of smuggling that government must not overlook.
“These are some of the things that often lead to piracy, if you check the records; most of the attacks by pirates are tanker vessels”.
He explained that in the last administration, there were clearly marked Ship To Ship (STS) designated zones in all the pilot districts which include Lagos, Warri, Port- Harcourt and Calabar.
“There are marked areas where these activities should take place Nigeria but people now go to Benin Republic, Togo and other countries to do STS, it is worrisome, more worrisome is that in the record of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, ships are coming from Cotonou off-shore.
Cotonou do not have oil and cannot be the supplier of imported petroleum products.
“We need to look at some of these issues and address them, once these things are taken care of and the designated zones well policed by the Nigerian Navy, I am sure all these piracy issue will be a thing of the past”, he cautioned.