Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Monday, backed human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) that there is a deliberate attempt to cover up the involvement of military personnel in the serious crime of oil theft.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, described as sacrilegious, contemptible and scandalous, the justification of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, over the destruction of a vessel loaded with stolen crude oil in Niger Delta area.
Besides, HURIWA has called for a probe of a viral video in which a private jet purportedly belonging to the British businessman was seen flying out in a crudely constructed airport deep inside the Zamfara Gold filled Forests with what were believed Gold haulage stolen from Zamfara State just as the Rights group wondered why the Federal Government did not inform Nigerians why it ordered a no fly zone in Zamfara state a year ago even when it is clear that there is no airport in Zamfara state. HURIWA said the massive looting of Gold solid minerals from Zamfara State should be investigated by an independent judicial panel.
The group also called for the constitution of a judicial panel of inquiry on the oil bunkering vessel set ablaze by security agents after the vessel was arrested by a private pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services led by a former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo.
At a State House briefing last week, Irabor had said that the swift destruction of the oil bunkering vessel by the criminal suspects is in line with the “rules of engagement”. The CDS noted that security agents, especially the officers of the Nigerian Navy, subsequently set the “instrument of operation” ablaze, noting that no investigation is needed to carry out the action.
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The brisk destruction of the controversial vessel used for illegal oil lifting from the Niger Delta creeks by security agents is suspicious and shameful.
The defenseless justification by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor is condemnable and displays desperation to cover up the involvement of military personnel, top-ranking politicians, businessmen and oil companies who have for decades plundered Nigeria’s commonwealth through the illicit act of oil theft.
“Already, Tompolo’s company said about 58 illegal oil points have been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft in Delta and Bayelsa states commenced. Also, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, said the Company uncovered an illegal oil connection in the Niger Delta that operated for nine years which means Nigeria has lost over 600,000 barrels per day to crude oil theft.
“Irabor may not have been aware then he should be told in plain language that the security agents committed arson by setting the vessel ablaze, according to section 111 of the Armed Forces Act which prohibits the destruction of vessels. HURIWA, therefore, demands the swift constitution of a judicial panel of inquiry on this.
“Nigerians need to know why the country’s defense chiefs or military commanders are colluding with economic saboteurs to rob Nigeria of natural resources. Why on Earth is a top General providing justification for a broad daylight crime of gargantuan magnitude?
“Irabor and the other service chiefs must also be made to explain before the judicial panel of inquiry the never-ending illegal mining of gold and valuable mineral resources in Zamfara and other states which cannot be possible without the collusion of security agents and politicians. Nigerians need to know the truth behind the corruption and the shenanigans surrounding the siphoning of Nigeria’s commonwealth. After all the service chiefs primary duty is to protect the TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF THE WHOLE OF NIGERIA INCLUDING OUR MARITIME AND SOLID MINERALS ASSETS.”