By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday set up an ad-hoc committee to probe the alleged theft of 22 million barrels of crude oil between January to June this year.
The decision followed the outcome of the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji (APGA, Anambra) at plenary presided over by the deputy speaker, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, calling the attention of the House to the alleged theft of 22million barrels of crude oil in the Niger Delta earlier in the year.
Adopting the motion, the committee, which is headed by the deputy House leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason (APC, Edo) was mandated to determine the volume of crude oil extracted in the country on a daily basis, as well as determine the quantity sold at the international market and the quantity consumed locally.
The panel is also expected to determine the impact of the crude oil theft on the environment in the areas, it occurs and reports back to the House in eight weeks for further legislative actions.
In his lead debate, Umeoji recalled that recently the National Economic Council (NEC) disclosed that the country lost N1.3 trillion to oil theft in the first six months in 2019.
The lawmaker lamented that oil theft apart from being an economic sabotage also poses a great danger to the environment as oil pipelines are breached in the process of the theft.
He said it was unfortunate that at the time the federal government is looking for money, the country is losing so much revenue as a result of oil theft.
Umeoji added that if the entire value of crude oil stolen in a year is put together, it will amount to about N5trillion, which is enough to fund the national budget. Consequently, the lawmaker called on the House to institute an inquest into the issue, so as to unravel those behind the alleged theft.
In his contribution, Hon. Julius Pondi (PDP, Delta), said it is imperative for the parliament to pay serious attention to developments in the oil and sector of the economy in the interest of the country
“The House should look critically into the development in the oil and gas industry. The investigation will help us know the truth about oil theft in the Niger Delta,” Pondi said.