The National Economic Council (NEC) Thursday constituted a Legal Task Force (LTF) made up of Mohammed Adoke, minister of justice and attorney general of the federation (AGF); representatives from the NNPC, the Armed Forces, Civil Defence, Police, SSS and other related agencies to prosecute cases of oil theft across the country.
Briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of NEC monthly meeting in Abuja, Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan stated that members of the task force would be announced on Monday by the attorney-general of the federation, who was mandated by NEC to head the legal task force.
Uduaghan stated that the meeting which was presided over by the vice president Namadi Sambo approved the setting-up of the task force in order to facilitate the prosecution of proven cases of oil theft, using relevant laws, particularly the “miscellaneous offences Act which carries a sentence of 21 years without option of fine”.
The Governor, who stated that the task force would only operate for one year with effect from July, disclosed that about 500 suspects had been apprehended over alleged oil thefts across the country.
“You know that because oil thieves are not being prosecuted, it seems to give them the courage to steal more. A lot of arrest had been made.
“We hear that there are over 500 persons who have been arrested, that are involved in oil theft”, he said.
Uduaghan expressed optimism that the task force would deliver on its mandate and also address the issue of the shortfall of 400, 000 barrels per day.
He also said the Council mandated the governors of Bayelsa and Delta states to meet with the oil majors and the Joint Task Force to work out modalities for the repair of Nembe and the Trans Niger pipelines, which were currently shut down.