Pipeline Protection Contract: Of Jolted Oil Thieves Intensifying Campaign Of Calumny Against Tantita Security Services Limited
By Federal Ebiaridor,
At the twilight of the Buhari Administration, the theft of the nation’s oil resources on an unimaginably large scale had assumed a suffocating dimension. The effect of the daily theft of 400,000 barrels of crude oil on Nigeria’s economy made the reality frighteningly stark in the extreme. The then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, confirmed that oil thieves and rogues were stealing about 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day in August last year.
Figures from the NNPCL and its sister firms showed that Nigeria, a country in dire need of funds to fix dilapidating infrastructure and a struggling economy was losing 120 million barrels of crude to economic vampires who were feasting on the nation’s oil resources. According to the NNPCL, Nigeria lost N12.6 billion Dollars in less than a year in 2022.
Similarly, on September 11, 2002, Bala Wunti, Group General manager, of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) told a bewildered Nigerian public that the nation loses 700 million Dollars every month to oil theft and vandalism at the terminal. In September, the country’s submission to the OPEC Secretariat totaled crude output at just 938,000 b/d, just over half its quota for the month, while total liquids production was only 1.14mn b/d.
As a major problem of existential dimension, oil theft rightly dominated the headlines of major media houses in the country. The concern over the pillaging of the nation’s resources by a vicious international criminal network of super-rich and sophisticated economic bandits spilled even into the international media. Nigeria was fast becoming a laughing stock and an object of pity as a nation that watched while an economic war of existential dimension was being waged against her citizens.
This was the situation that made the NNPCL under the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, and the Buhari administration embark on deliberate steps to take tough decisions to fight the national scourge.
Without a doubt, the decision to engage Tantita Security Limited, a firm in which High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias, Tompolo has interest, proved to be a masterstroke. It signaled the change of the desperate story around the security of the nation’s oil resources. This company, Tantita Security Limited has shown capacity and has registered screaming impacts in the battle to secure Nigeria’s crude oil being stolen with unprecedented impunity. Since, the engagement of the private security firm, operatives of Tantita have combed the creeks of the Niger Delta in the search for the vultures feasting on the nation’s resources. The various arrests made in terms of persons and vessels are in the public domain.
Within a few months of its engagement, the company arrested rogue vessels that have been operating unchallenged in the Niger Delta for years. The exploits of Tantita did not go unnoticed as it jerked up oil production from 900,000 to 1.5 million barrels per day.
Last year the Managing Director of the NNPCL Mele Kyari who acknowledged the sterling performance by TSL in the campaign against oil theft in the country said that TSL operatives discovered 295 illegal connections to NNPC pipelines many of which have been in sabotage operations for years.
He also told the nation that TSL destroyed thousands of illegal refineries in the region in addition to the arrest of massive vessels involved in siphoning crude oil in the Niger Delta.
The NNPCL GCEO did not forget to tell Nigerians, the first reactions of the virulent oil thieves to the intensified renewed concerted efforts against the powerful cabal of thieves in high places in various sectors of the land.
It was evidently clear that he contended against one of the most ruthless, fierce and lethal conspiracies at enormous risk to himself to render commendable patriotic services to this country.
“The scale (oil theft) is enormous. We have seen pipelines taken from our main trunk lines to abandoned platforms. We have thousands of illegal refineries that we have taken down in the past few months.
“We have seen over 295 illegal connections to our pipelines. Many of them have been there for years. We were left with no choice but to involve private security contractors and it worked. They are complementing our security agencies and they have done great work.
“I have received several death threats to myself. This is the cost of change. When people walk away from things they are used to, to something new. Something that will take away value and benefit from them, they will react. That reaction is beneficial to us, for all of us that will work together to make sure that this works,” Kyari had said Ironically, a group of people from the Niger Delta and their financiers have woken up suddenly to orchestrate a vicious campaign of calumny against Tompolo and TSL who are in the forefront of this epic fight against oil thieves.
Already there are loud indicators as predicted that the oil thieves who have held this country and its economy down for years are fighting back. There are self announcing evidence that they are battling hard to discredit TSL on all fronts.
While there are those mischief makers who paid princely sums to call on Mr. President to democratize a sensitive security contract that is linked to the heart of the Nigerian economy, others are either initiating or amplifying lies designed to target the continuation of the TSL contract with the NNPCL.
It is a good development that the President and the NNPCL have ignored this band of mischief makers who are fighting hard to reverse the gains of the well-coordinated campaign against the theft of the nation’s oil resources and the sabotage of her economy.
Tantita Security Services Limited, its backers, and operatives have no doubt stepped on the acidic toes of mysterious billionaires whose only source of income is the criminal theft of Nigeria’s oil resources. It is in the economic interest of Nigeria not to relent in the effort to rid the nation of this scourge. Now that the powerful cabal of oil thieves is fighting back, the Federal Government should intensify the onslaught on them by protecting those waging this tough battle.
Tantita Security Limited, its backers, and its operatives deserve this cover.
Federal Ebiaridor is the Secretary of the Ijaw Youths Network, and writes from Lagos.