The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Ltd has called for the establishment of special courts for the prosecution of oil thieves in the country.
Mal. Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, made the call on Thursday in Abuja when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Hon. Justice John Tsoho.
Kyari described crude oil thieves and pipeline vandals as a serious threat to Nigeria’s oil production, revenue generation, and by extension energy security, noting that a special court to execute such cases will deter would-be criminals and assure investors of value for their investments.
On his part, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; Honorable Justice John Tsoho expressed optimism about the partnership sought by the NNPC Ltd but worried over the manpower availability of judges to enable a special court to be created for such purposes. However, the Chief Judge gave assurances of continued discussion on the matter as he hoped that with time, the issue can be revisited and addressed effectively.
“If it is the issue of assigning or designating a court within the structure to look into that aspect of Prosecution, yes it can be done but again I must tell you that it’s fraught with a lot of challenges. That’s because as of this moment, we have a shortfall in the number of judges and the workload of judges now is soo much.’ The average number of cases on the docket of every judge in Abuja now is no less than 600 cases’ Honorable Justice Tsoho said.
The Group CEO was accompanied on the visit by the NNPC Ltd Group Executive Director, Upstream, Adokiye Tombomieye.
Recalled on the 8th of April 2022, Mal Mele Kyari called for the establishment of special courts for the prosecution of oil thieves in the country.
He made the call when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Upstream, investigating the loss of Nigeria’s crude oil production to theft.
He disclosed that the country lost over 1.5 billion dollars to oil theft between January and March 2022.
He said that the special courts had become necessary to unmask those behind illegal crude oil refining.
“We must have special courts to try those behind this business. This is an elite business, it is not done by poor people,” he said.
He expressed worry over the loss of crude oil production to activities of vandals and oil thieves, adding that stern security measures were being considered to restore the production situation and improve revenue.
He also disclosed that efforts were on top gear to ensure the situation was addressed, stressing that there would be tremendous progress within the next two months.
Kyari said thieves and vandals had rendered some of the facilities useless as the activities of vandals and thieves had got to a level that the NNPC had to shut down some facilities.
According to him, the NNPC can no longer sustain production as expected because of the activities of the oil thieves and vandals.
“It came to a level where we could only receive 300 barrels per day,” he said.