A group, Stop The Theft Campaign, led by the former International Relations Advisor to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ambassador Patrick Dele Cole, an indigene to of Abonnema in Rivers State, has urged the G8 leaders to put to an end the increasing rate of crude oil theft in Nigeria.
Stop The Theft is a campaign to raise awareness about the scale and consequences of the illegal theft of oil in the Niger Delta and to work with partners and other interested parties to propose and advocate long term solutions
The campaign, which is coordinated by Stop the Theft Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation registered in the United Kingdom has also urged the world leaders to ‚Äúinvestigate the global trade in stolen Nigerian crude oil, from the ships used to transport it to the money used to pay for it‚Äù.
In a statement issued at the weekend, the group wanted the G8 to also engage international experts from different sectors to discuss the development and implementation of technological and other solutions that could be employed in combating oil theft.
It also asked the G8 to support the efforts of the Federal Government to secure its territorial waters and so prevent the unhindered movement of the vessels used to transport stolen crude.
‚ÄúStolen Nigerian crude oil is transported on internationally registered vessels, sold to international buyers, processed by international oil refineries and paid for using international bank accounts. The environmental impact of the trade, and associated illegal oil refineries that process it in the creeks of the Niger Delta is devastating. A region already regarded as an environmental tragedy is being further degraded and efforts to rehabilitate the region cannot proceed until this illicit trade is contained,‚Äù the group said.
The group noted that oil theft in the Niger Delta represented over $7 billion of lost revenue that could be used to implement projects and programmes that would boost economic growth and social development in Nigeria.
It urged the G8 leaders, who met recently in Ireland to discuss tax, trade and transparency, to also look at how to address the problem of oil theft in the Niger Delta.
‚ÄúWhile we recognise that the Nigerian Government must play the lead role in the fight against oil theft, it cannot successfully put an end to the illicit trade acting alone. Members of the international community must partner with Nigeria to develop and implement long-lasting solutions,‚Äù the group added.
In recognition of the need for global partnerships to end oil theft, the group also called on the Nigerian government and the international community to co-operate and agree on specific international engagement to fight this growing problem by establishing an intergovernmental working group to discuss the menace.
It noted that in 2008, the late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua had called for international support in the fight against blood oil, adding that the global leaders pledged their support.
‚ÄúThat support is now even more urgently needed. It is time for this problem to take a prominent position on the agendas of the Nigerian government and the international community,‚Äù the group added.
The group also stated that if the G8 were to truly deliver on its objectives and improve transparency in the extractive industries sector, oil theft must be on its agenda, stressing that without a solution, it will be impossible to deliver economic development and the social and environmental rehabilitation of the Niger Delta region.