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NEC canvasses special court to prosecute oil thieves


oil-thiefThe 67th National Economic Council, (NEC) yesterday, canvassed for the establishment of a special court to speedily prosecute suspected oil thieves and bunkers in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, chairman of the committee and deputy governor of Bayelsa State, John Jonah Atuamah, said it recommended that the Federal Government sets up special courts for speedy prosecution of oil bunkerers and oil theft suspects.

The council in addition, called for an increase in the refining capacity of domestic refineries, through relocating and co-locating smaller cost-efficient refineries within a time frame of 12 – 24 months.

It is also seeking restoration of upstream production, by positively engaging host communities to put the current militancy to an end.

The decision follows the submission of an ad-hoc committee set up in 2013, to identify causes of crude oil theft and other forms of bunkering in the area.

The council expressed concern at the inadequate operational patrol vessels to man the entire pipeline network.

NEC identified unemployment among youths in the region, as probable cause of the increasing incidence of theft and vandalism.

Another issue it was the often non-availability of petroleum products in the area.

To curb the incidence, therefore, the committee, called for the procurement and deployment of appropriate technology for surveillance.

It added that combat vehicles/boats in difficult terrain would drastically reduce these incidents and ensure full benefits of uninterrupted supply.

It called for improved government funding in the upstream sector, where funding has been less than 30%.

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