NNPC Defends Award Of N4bn Pipeline Surveillance Contract To Ex-Militant, Tompolo
Fred Omotara, Lagos 
The Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has tried to justify its decision to hire former Niger-Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo to provide security for oil pipeline network across the country; saying that it did the right thing.
The NNPC explanation became necessary in the wake of public outcry over the N4 billion pipeline surveillance contract.
Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, made the clarification while addressing journalists at the 49th session of the State House briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja on Tuesday.
Kyari said while the security agencies are doing their part, an end-to-end pipeline surveillance required the involvement of private entities and community stakeholders.
He said “We need private contractors to man the right of way to these pipelines. So we put up a framework for contractors to come and bid and they were selected through a tender process. And we believe we made the right decision.”
Fielding further questions on the contract, Kyari explained that although the Federal Government is not dealing directly with the former warlord, it has signed a contract with a company Tompolo has interests in.
He explained that the shutting down of pipelines in the country was deliberate; pointing out that part of the reason was the challenge of not operating as a business thereby making the government to incur loses.
Kyari said NNPC borrowed $1 billion from AFREXIM bank to put in place the refineries, adding that the management of the company was confident it was repositioning the company for roughly 90%
He further noted that the repayment of the borrowed money was tied on the productivity of the refineries, optimistic that NNPC would deliver on the rehabilitation exercise.
Kyari also assured that the country will no longer import petroleum products from mid next year.
On the level of loses on the nation’s pipelines, he said that the nefarious business of pipeline vandals cuts across different regions and religious organisations where the pipelines pass through.
He said some of the pipelines are illegally connected near some mosques and churches.
He noted that the issue of crude oil theft is real and happening, but stressed that the company was not helpless and its efforts are paying off.
He said that 295 illegal connections were discovered in one line in less than 200 meters, and that the company with the help of the security agencies and the directive of the Chief of Defense Staff were able to intervene.
He said so far, 30 Speed Boats, 179 Wooden Boats, 37 trucks have been arrested, but added that the authorities have taken the decision not to arrest any longer but to burn such confiscated products.
He revealed that 122 persons comprising highly placed individuals have been arrested and some of them have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
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