The Federal Government has warned that it would deal ruthlessly with those engaged in pipeline vandalism and the sabotage of power infrastructure in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the warning in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Segun Adeyemi.
Mohammed said that pipeline vandalism and the sabotage of power infrastructure had drastically reduced power generation/transmission as well as fuel supplies in recent times, thus inflicting untold hardship on Nigerians.
He said that repeated attacks on oil and gas pipelines and the willful shut down of power facilities by protesters amounted to economic sabotage which no government would tolerate.
“Vandals, whatever their motives are, cannot and will not be treated with kid gloves because their actions constitute a clear and present danger to the nation’s economic, social and political well-being.
“The attack on the Forcados Export Terminal that has affected gas production by oil firms and reduced gas supply to power generating plants and the shutdown of Utorogu gas plant are totally condemnable and cannot be allowed to continue,’’ he said.
He said that the administration would not do anything to abridge the constitutional rights of any individual or group to carry out protests.
He however warned that the administration would not tolerate a situation where people hide under the guise of legitimate protests to sabotage power infrastructure.
“The shutdown of the national transmission facility in Osogbo and the Ikeja Disco by some unionists amount to economic sabotage,” he said.
Mohammed said the government was not unaware that as it steps up the fight against corruption, corruption would vigorously fight back in many forms which include destruction/sabotage of key national infrastructure to make the government look bad.
“However, nothing will make this government to slow down in its anti-corruption fight and no one who is corrupt will be spared,’’ he warned.
He appealed to Nigerians to join hands with the government to check the activities of unpatriotic elements working against the interest of the people.
“When oil and gas facilities are vandalised, the impact is felt directly by Nigerians; when power infrastructure is sabotaged for whatever reasons, Nigerians bear the brunt.
“While those actions may be aimed at discrediting the government, those who pay the price are the vast majority of innocent, law-abiding and well-meaning Nigerians, not just the vandals or the saboteurs,’’ he said.
He however noted that the power situation was gradually improving as generation had now increased to around 4,000 megawatts.
He said that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Ibe Kachikwu, had assured that the prevailing fuel queues would gradually ease in the next few days.