A delegate to the National Conference and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark yesterday accused military chiefs of oil theft.
Clark, who was nominated by the Federal Government, spoke as delegates continued debate on the report of the Conference Committee on Public Finance and Revenue.
In his speech, he recalled that during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, he drew his attention to the nefarious activities of military officers, who were aiding and abeting oil theft.
He noted that Obasanjo directed the then Minister of Defence, General T.Y. Danjuma, to probe the situation.
Danjuma’s investigation, Clark said, led to the arrest of three naval officers.
Of the three, he said, one was eventually exonerated.
The Ijaw leader said: “The military officers who are in the Niger Delta are guilty of stealing the oil.
“What I will suggest is that the troops in the Niger Delta should be changed periodically.
“In doing so, you will find that oil theft will reduce.”
He urged the conference to take a stand on the issue to end oil theft.
Clark supported the committee’s recommendation that fuel subsidy should be abolished.
Fuel subsidy, he said, was an euphemism for corruption, urging the conference to adopt the recommendation to abolish it.
Clark said: “In 1972 as a commissioner for finance in the old Midwest, I travelled with President Shehu Shagari, who was the Federal Commissioner of Finance, to Forcados Island, where our crude was being exported.
“We discovered that the government officials, who were there, were more interested in what they can get than protecting the nation’s interest.
“You hardly know how much oil was taken away from our shores.
“Till today, I do believe that if you go to Forcados terminal the same story will be told.
“We are talking about oil theft, I have always said that our young men at home do bucket bunkering.
“They have no facility, they also lack the technology, but those who steal this oil are people who come from abroad.
“Have we forgotten the case where three admirals were involved? They were court martialled”
The Ijaw leader said the revocation of the contract given to ex-militants for the protection of oil pipelines could be responsible for the resurgence of pipeline vandalism.
Some of the pipelines, he said, were over 50 years old and needed to be changed.