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Oil Theft: Navy Focuses On Brown Water …As Fishermen Demand N250bn Oil Spill Compensation

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Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC), Rear Adm. Azubuike Ajuonu, says the Nigerian Navy has shifted patrol from traditional deep sea, to brown water, to tackle increasing crude oil theft.
Ajuonu said this in Lagos yesterday at the end of the second bi-annual inspection of the command.
”The role of the Nigerian Navy in today’s contemporary Nigeria, has gradually shifted from the traditional deep sea patrols, to brown water operations, within the creeks.
“Equally, we have also been called upon to participate in internal security operations in parts of the country with security challenges,” he said.
Ajuonu said efforts had been intensified in the training of personnel to enhance their capacity to function effectively in view of the present day challenges.
”We are all aware of the security challenges facing the country, particularly the illegalities within our maritime environment. These challenges demand high state of discipline, loyalty and professionalism.
“As trainers, we must be seen to be on top of these values, Hence, we must not relent in our strides towards producing a pool of well-trained and highly proficient personnel,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government is exploring the possibility of using an electronic pipeline surveillance to track oil theft in the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan gave this indication Friday in his closing remarks at a two-day oil and gas investment forum in Onne.
Jonathan, who was represented by the Senate President, David Mark, described the menace of oil theft as worrisome, stressing, however, that government was ready to tackle it headlong.
He said, relevant regulatory agencies are working round the clock to combat the challenge, considering the strategic position of oil and gas in the economy.
“My administration has embarked on a number of far-reaching measures to combat these unwholesome activities. Government is exploring the possibility of using electronic pipeline surveillance to track down oil theft.”
While stressing that the government was putting in place mechanism to ensure that vandals found it extremely difficult to access petroleum pipelines, the president gave assurance of continuous support to an investment drive in the sector.
“To this end, I am calling on all relevant industries to ensure that all oil and gas related cargo are discharged only at the designated terminals,” he said.
The President directed that the  agencies concerned should also ensure strict enforcement on the ban on the illegal discharge of cargo and receiving of vessels at private jetties.
He said that steps should be taken to guard against the breach of national security and loss of revenue to the government.
Jonathan said the choice of the Onne oil and gas free trade zone was strategic, as it will showcase the investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy as “seeing is believing”.
According to him, government generated revenue in the zone has increased from $5.4 billion to $7.1 billion in 2013 and the FDI from $4 billion to $4.2 billion dollars in 2013.
“Available statistics indicate that the companies operating in the free zone have increased from 150 in 2011 to 170 in 2013, employment regeneration has increased from 30,000 in 2011 to 34,000 in 2013.
“Support to family livelihood has grown from 180,000 in 2011 to 200,000 in 2013. If these indices are not indicating an attractive environment for investors, I wonder what else they are,” he said.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga, said the Oil and Gas Free Zone (OGFTZ) would continue to be a catalyst for the diversification of the economy.
Meanwhile, fishermen in Unyenge community, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have demanded N250 billion compensation from an oil company, Universal Energy Resources Ltd. (UERL).
The fishermen told newsmen in Mbo yesterday that they made the demand under the aegis of Famous Fishing Organisation (FFO).
The chairman of the organisation, Mr Johnson Harry, told newsmen that the members were affected by the August 15 oil spill from the company’s oil field in Stubb Creek.
According to him, the spill emptied about 2,000 barrels of crude into the Ede Akpa River in the area and has prevented them from fishing— their only source of livelihood.
He also said that the oil company should pay adequate compensation to farmers in the community who were also affected by the oil spill.
“The oil flowed to Ede Akpa River where we do our fishing activities and destroyed our fishing equipment and as a result, we can no longer fish in the river again,’’  he said
He said that the oil spill also destroyed farmlands in the area, affecting the livelihood of 5,000 farmers in Unyenge community.
Harry said that the spill had caused untold hardship to the people of the area, and that some of their members had died of hunger and starvation, as a result.
“We cannot farm, and according to international standard, if there is an oil spill, you have to wait for 10 years before you can start farming again,’’ Harry said.
“The hazardous substances coming from the spilled crude has destroyed aquatic life, raffia palms and fishing nets.
“Even the air we breath in the area have been affecting our health and we no longer go out for fishing,’’ he said.
Harry urged UERL to clean up the affected lands and waters in the area, according to international standard.
Contacted, the Public Affairs Officer of the company, Mr Aniefiok Iwaudofia, confirmed the incident, saying the cause of the spill was equipment failure from a ruptured flange on the tank outlet.
He, however, said that the quantity of crude spilled into the river was only about three barrels.
“It is important to note that the spill was immediately and effectively contained within the Stubb Creek well pad.
“The little that poured on the UERL acquired Right of Way (ROW) was scooped and the top soil excavated and back-filled with fresh sand,’’ he said.
Iwaudofia assured the host community that the management would continue to engage in practice and processes designed to effectively manage the hazards of its operations.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment,  Dr Olusegun Aganga  (left),  with  Minister of Transport,  Senator Idris Umar,  at the 2013 Nigeria Oil and Gas Trade and Investment Forum in Port Harcourt, last Thursday

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga (left), with Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, at the 2013 Nigeria Oil and Gas Trade and Investment Forum in Port Harcourt, last Thursday

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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