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Oil Theft/Insecurity: Falana decries surveillance contract to Tompolo’s firm, urges sack of Defence Chief

Mr. Femi Falana, SAN

*Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, says the award of pipeline surveillance contract to a company led by Government Ekpemepulo aka Tompolo, is a colossal embarrassment to a state (Nigeria) that is ‘supposed to be functional’

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Concerned about the far-reaching implications of the government’s decision on the security architecture of the West African country, Mr. Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has frowned on the award of pipeline surveillance contract to a company led by Government Ekpemepulo aka Tompolo, a former militant leader.

Falana described the government’s move as “colossal embarrassment” to security agencies in the country.

L-R: Gen. LEO Irabor, CDS, Defence Minister Babagana Monguno, and Service Chiefs at a meeting in the State House, Abuja, FCT    File Photo 

The human right lawyer, who said this while featuring on a Channels TV programme Monday, October 17, 2022, and monitored in Lagos, stated: “In the first place, the President has demonstrably lost confidence in the competence of the military, hence a contract has been awarded to a non-state actor, Mr. Government, aka Tompolo who is said to be making these discoveries now.

“That itself is a colossal embarrassment to a state that is supposed to be functional.”

According to him, the contract awarded to Tompolo is a loss of confidence on all the Service Chiefs who should have resigned.

He further noted: “Ordinarily, the service chiefs should simply have resigned that Mr. President you have lost confidence in us.”

Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) August this year reportedly, justified the Federal Government’s decision to award a multi-billion Naira pipelines surveillance contract to Tantita Security Services, led by Tompolo.

Tompolo’s security firm was said to have made startling revelations on crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

The ex- militant leader said about 58 illegal oil points had been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began.

However, the government security agents recently destroyed a vessel used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks after the vessel was reportedly arrested by Tompolo’s firm, according to report.

General Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), reportedly said that the swift destruction of the oil bunkering vessel is in line with the “rules of engagement” and no investigation was needed to set the vessel ablaze.

But Falana would have none of that as the frontline lawyer criticised General Irabor.

Falana rather stated that only the Federal High Court is empowered to order the interim or final forfeiture of any vessel that used for conveying stolen crude oil in Nigeria.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also stressed that the country’s security agencies committed arson and acted in contrary to Section 111 of the Armed Forces Act, which prohibits the setting ablaze of a vessel

He, therefore, demanded the government’s sacking of the CDS.

The SAN as well maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari must ensure that all those who are indicted in the act of oil theft are fired, named and shamed.

It cannot continue to be business as usual, said he.

Falana explained that oil theft has been ongoing in Nigeria for the past 22 years, and blamed the economic sabotage on “systematic collapse” and connivance of the military and political leaders alongside oil companies lifting Nigeria’s oil illegally to ports in the United States (US).

Oil theft has made the headlines across the news media channels in recent times, as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State at the recent KadInvest 7.0 event in. Kaduna, vehemently called for the unbundling and privatisation of the NNPCL.

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