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Stop burning seized crude oil, expert tells Navy

Stop burning seized crude oil, expert tells Navy

An environmental expert, Prof Anthony Ogbeibu, has criticised the Nigerian Navy for insisting that it will continue with the procedure of setting ablaze stolen crude oil seized from oil thieves.

Ogbeibu, who is an environmental consultant and former chairman of the Nigerian Environmental Society, Edo State chapter, described the continuous plan to burn seized vessels with stolen crude as suicidal and great harm to the environment.

Recall that despite calls and condemnations by environmentalists on the burning of the seized vessel containing 800,000 litres of crude oil, the Nigerian Navy, on Monday stated that such procedures would continue.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, on July 11, had disclosed that it intercepted a Nigerian-registered vessel containing 800,000 litres of stolen crude oil heading to Cameroon.

Following the seizure, the vessel was set ablaze “to serve as a deterrent to oil thieves.”

Also, the Navy said that setting ablaze intercepted vessels with stolen crude oil and illegal bunkering within the Nigerian maritime domain would continue until alternative means were devised.

The Flag Officer, Commanding Central Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy Rear Admiral Umar Chugali, during a familiarisation tour of Naval Units under his mandate, stated, “So far, every naval personnel, unit and establishment is operating under that SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) which, for now, is very effective until any other means is devised. We are operating by SOP and also within extant regulations.”

Speaking in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, Prof Ogbeibu said, “This is a great harm to the environment; it is catastrophic. Spills and pollutions have an anthropogenic impact on the environment.

“Burning a vessel containing crude, an unquantified amount goes into the land and water. How will they contain them? This is acting in ignorance because they do not know the consequence of this burning to the air, water and land.

“Every nation is fighting to protect the environment and we are having several policies toward protecting the environment and they are compounding it by deliberately adding to the environmental woes we have.”

Ogbeibu advised that the seized vessels should be confiscated and the crude auctioned.

He added, “Why will you burn the vessel and the crude? Who benefits from the burning? When vessels are confiscated, dispose of them, then auction the crude or seize and impound them. Burning them would create another problem for the environment.

“The government can even gain from whatever they will do to the vessels and crude aside from burning them or releasing them to the owner.

“Burning is a no-go area. The world will frown upon this because this is a disaster. Burning will cost more money to the government because they will still have to spend money on salvaging the environment.”

An environmentalist and Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nnimmo Bassey, had recently stated that the burning of the vessel was wasteful and an ecological assault on the environment.

He described the action as a disregard for “our constitutional right to a safe environment.”


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