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Senate moves against foreign companies involved in oil spill, environmental degradation …Seeks end to Nigeria’s cyber security crises

Senate moves against foreign companies involved in oil spill, environmental degradation …Seeks end to Nigeria’s cyber security crises

The Senate has commenced moves to put an end to what it described as the “illegal” activities of oil companies engaged in exploration resulting in oil spills and environmental degradation of host communities in Nigeria. The Senate on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) to comprehensively review relevant laws governing abandonment, decommissioning and remediation with a view to establishing the level of compliance by oil companies operating in Nigeria. The upper chamber also charged its committee to urge all oil companies operating in Nigeria to give a comprehensive account of budgeted allocations in their annual budgets for mandatory abandonment and decommissioning, running into billions of dollars unaccounted for.

It further called for further investigations as to how budgeted allocations for this purpose were applied or expended over the years. These formed part of resolutions reached by the upper chamber sequel to the consideration of a motion on “the need to investigate the degree of enforcement of Abandonment and Decommissioning Obligations in Oil and Gas Exploration Contracts.” Senator Gershom Bassey (APC, Cross River South), who sponsored the motion, drew the attention of the upper chamber to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas Art 60(3), the Geneva Convention Article 5(5), the Oslo and Paris Convention for the Protection of Marine Environment, the 1967 Territorial Water Act and 1969 Petroleum Act.

According to the lawmaker, such laws make sufficient provisions for mandatory abandonment and decommissioning for oil companies. Senator Bassey bemoaned the conduct of oil companies in Nigeria for “failing to restore exploited sites after the expiration of their lease as witnessed in the Niger Delta.” He added that at the point of transfer of interest by one company to another, “there is lack of clarity in many instances with regards to financial liability for abandonment and decommissioning thereby causing untold hardship to the host community.” Contributing, Senator Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra North), a co-sponsor of the motion, described same as “critical”, given how degradation affects host communities under oil exploration.

Oduah noted that the incidence of spills were preventable, if only funds set aside for the purpose of clean-ups are duly utilized. In a related development, the Senate on Wednesday also mandated its Committee on ICT and Cybercrime to engage stakeholders with a view to coming up with a broad-based approach to address Nigeria’s digital and cyber security crises. The upper chamber while calling for engagements with Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to identify cyber security constraints and remedial measures, urged the Federal Government to improve on budgetary provisions for digital technology and cyber-dependence safety.

These were resolutions reached after consideration of a motion on “The Growth of Digital Technology and the Challenge of Cybercrime.” Sponsor of the motion, Senator Yakubu Oseni (APC, Kogi Central), warned that “the gains of digital technology are being dampened by rapid evolution of cybersecurity threat, with increased attacks in both sophistication and severity.” According to him, the cyber-related activities are already costing the world huge losses in trillions of dollars, recalling that the NotPetya malware alone caused billions of dollars in damage to many industries globally. “Global ransomeware damage alone has been predicted to cost the world over 11 billion dollars in 2019 and 20 billion dollars in 2021. “It is also predicted that a business will fall every 14 seconds in 2019 and 11 seconds in 2021, and that overall Cybercrime is predicted to cost the world over six trillion dollars annually from 2021,” Yakubu said. The lawmaker further bemoaned that Nigeria is already plagued with the destructive cyber-crises resulting in a loss to the tune of N250 billion to Cybercrime activities in 2017 alone.

He noted that the 2018 report of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Cooperation (NDIC) indicates that there were 37,817 reported fraud cases within the year, out of which 59.2 percent were internet and technology based. Yakubu added that eighty-one percent of cyber-security incidents in the country are either unreported or unresolved, leaving room for proliferation and escalation of illicit cyber activities. “Nigeria still lags behind in infrastructure sophistication, data Management and digital security which are critical to the developmental agenda.

“In fact, federal allocation to the ICT sector of the economy can only be considered as lip service, compared to the enormity of challenges,” the lawmaker said.

Signed: Ezrel Tabiowo

Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate

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