Niger Delta NewsOil & Gas

Tompolo Faults Professor Akinyemi’s Statement On Private Pipeline Surveillance Contracts

Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting

OWNER of Tantita Security Services Nigeria Ltd (TSSNL), Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has faulted the the call to institute a judicial board of inquiry on oil thefts to identify persons behind crude oil and petroleum products theft.

The call and other unsubstantiated allegation against Tompolo and his security firm, came from the Academy of International Affairs led by its President and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi last week.

Tompolo reacted in a long thesis through his Lead Consultant, Mr Emmanuel Jakpa, on Tuesday in Warri, Delta State, wondering the misplacement and how such inquiry would not be counterproductive.

“Since we are talking to men of ideas, maybe we should examine their own prognostication.

“They have called for a judicial inquiry to unravel oil thefts and petroleum product subsidy all in one fell swoop.

“How will such a body proceed? Let us imagine, for a moment, that some astute judge was appointed.

“Perhaps no one can be more astute than Justice Chukwudifu Apune Oputa who chaired the Human Rights violation Investigation Commission aka Oputa Panel.

“But you would recall that the panel was unfortunately stopped by a simple legal challenge to its jurisdiction by no less astute a lawyer than Chief Rotimi Williams alias Timi the Law.

“Apparently, this is what the distinguished academics have in mind, a jamboree, lawyers who joust in public while no solution may be found to oil theft.

“Okay, I might be wrong, after all what might happen is speculative.

“So let us return to the example cited by the distinguished coterie; the Justice Ayo Irikefe panel of inquiry on alleged missing N2.8 billion in 1980. What did it find? That no money was missing!

“So, would Nigerians benefit more if lawyers spill several barrels of ink and the distinguished judicial panel resolves that no crude was actually stolen instead of discovering and closing the physical means by which crude is stolen?

“And this is not a matter of speculation. How can any judicial body arrive at finding unless there is a physical finding of fact already attained.

“It’s like accusing a man of theft without a prior police investigation and everybody is acting that he be charged to court without evidence… would that not equate to discharge and acquittal for want of evidence?

“Will a judicial panel visit the creeks unaided and find the export lines by themselves?

“We must be wary of the tyranny of experts. Those highly trained men with a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail,” Jakpa averred.

Responding to the alleged failure of governance being reason for contracting pipeline surveillance to private individuals like Tompolo.

According to Jakpa, the Academy asked whether it was not a big shame that a private company, Tantita SSNL had to be employed when Nigeria’s security failed.

“But in attacking Tompolo and the good work Tantita is doing, they shied away from deploying their undoubtedly massive reach in proposing a solution to the hydra headed problem of oil theft.

“By now you would have heard of the din arising from calls for the cancellation of this contract.The din continues to rise in spite of the fact that the contract has already justified itself with the big finds of humongous leakages in our petroleum export architecture.

“Will a judicial panel visit the creeks unaided and find the export lines by themselves.

“The manner of argumentation by these distinguished academicians leaves so much to be desired, it appears to be self-defeating,” he said.

Jakpa said that the fundamental error in the analysis of the group and the consequent prognostication was the notion that awarding a pipeline surveillance contract to a private entity is, itself, a failure of governance and a slur on institution like the armed forces.

He said that this type of contract had been awarded in the past to privately-owned companies, adding that at the moment, virtually every pipeline operator had a private security company contracted to provide security to some pipeline or other production asset.

“The extremely unsavory language used by the distinguished diplomats in associating Ekpemupolo with the illicit trade is much to be deprecated, moreso as they have failed to substantiate their allegations,” he said.

Jakpa said that if the Tantita contract succeeded as fully as hoped, it would shore the nations revenue by up to a 100 percent of the present baseline.

He said that Tantita had made mind boggling discoveries adding that the discoveries had not been refuted by anybody and certainly not the Academy.

“Even in faraway Israel the matter is being reported in their local news media. The home country of the private security company that was handed a whooping $195 million contract to secure our maritime domain.

“No international affairs expert wrote to illuminate Nigerians on the advantages or disadvantages of a foreign private company taking responsibility for our maritime security and intelligence gathering.

“We must be wary of the tyranny of experts. Those highly trained men with a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail,” he said.

Barrister Jakpa further posited that: “the fundamental error of their analysis and consequent prognostication is the notion that awarding a pipeline surveillance contract to a private entity is itself a failure of governance and a slur on institution like the armed forces.

“On that score, these highly revered academics, diplomats and foreign ministers got it wrong.

“They are falling into the typical error made by pedestrian commentators that pipeline surveillance is a task for Nigeria’s military.

“This is not so, because these pipelines are owned by private companies. All of them are licensed to operate them by the Oil Pipelines Act and the said Act imposed a duty on these private entities and to securing them. See Section 11 (5)(b) of the Oil Pipelines Act.

“Again, NNPC who awarded the contract under discussion, is now, by virtue of the new Petroleum Industry Act, a limited liability company.

“The NNPC is now a for-profit entity that must secure its pipeline in order to make profits, so how is it the business of government security agencies to protect the nations pipelines?

“Again, these type of contracts have been awarded in the past to privately owned companies.

“At the moment, virtually every pipeline operator has a private security company contracted to provide security to some pipeline or other production asset. Why is nobody complaining of those?

“And if Tantita were to beat her chest, she would say if they were doing their jobs, the need to engaging her would not even arise.

“Hence, the extremely unsavory language used by the distinguished diplomats in associating High Chief Government Ekpemupolo with the illicit trade is much to be deprecated, moreso as they have failed to substantiate their allegations.

“The comment that the award to Tantita is somehow proof of failure of governance is misconceived and predicated on a faulty premise.”

 

 

 

 

 

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