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By Chris Nomjov
Companies affiliated to former Niger-Delta militants; Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo); Mujaheedin Asari-Dokubo and Bipobiri Ajube (aka Gen. Shoot-At-Sight) and those of other prominent citizens have gotten fresh pipeline deals from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The NNPC has announced the renewal and extension of the pipeline protection contract it awarded to some ex-militants in 2011, which expired in 2012. A statement issued in Abuja by Ohi Alegbe, general manager, public affairs department, NNPC, revealed that the measure was to effectively combat the growing scourge of pipeline sabotage that had impacted negatively on the corporation’s operations.
He stated that the corporation not only renewed the contracts for the three initial communities involved in the 2011 contract, but extended the programme to five other communities with a high concentration of pipelines from the Niger Delta to Ondo, Ogun, Oyo and Lagos states.
“The pipeline protection contract is part of our community engagement programme across our host communities. It aims at getting community members to help in the task of protecting the pipelines around their communities,” the statement read.
“It would be recalled that while the earlier pipeline protection contract to the communities, which lasted from 2011 to 2012 subsisted, breaches to our pipelines were minimal, which conduced to the rise in production.
“The recent rise in the frequency and intensity of willful attacks on our pipelines dictates that we step up our community engagement programme to help stem the tide of the pipeline vandalism scourge.
“The contracts do not in any way obviate or undermine the responsibility of the police and other security agencies to protect the pipelines. “They are actually designed to complement the work of the security agencies by raising the alarm and drawing the attention of security agencies to any suspicious movements around the pipelines right of way.”
Alegbe further called on the media and other members of the public to desist from reading political meanings to the corporation’s operations.
It is interesting to note that in 2012, a Wall Street Journal enquiry estimated that an annual payment of about N5.6 billion goes to the former Niger-Delta warlords for guarding the oil pipelines in the restive region. The report gave a breakdown of the militants involved in the contracts as ‘General’ Government Tompolo Ekpumopolo N3.6 bn, Asari Dokubo N1.44 bn, ‘General’ Ateke Toms N560m and among others.
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