…Navy in illegal deal with crude oil thieves
…Navy provides security cover for vessel stealing crude
Operatives of the Tantita Security Services Limited (TSSL) yesterday uncovered a coastal location in Ondo State, where oil thieves were siphoning crude oil under the cover of men of the Nigerian Navy (NN).
The personnel of TSSL, who acted on a tip-off stormed the location of the illicit oil deal, where the illegal oil operators under the protection of the armed naval personnel were stealing crude oil from a well-head, operated by a yet-to-be identified oil major.
The Navy made it impossible to ascertain the name and other information about the vessel.
The Tantita operatives, were barred from the scene by the naval personnel, who engaged in sporadic shooting to ward-off the inquisitive officials of the private security company engaged by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to tackle the menace of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
The naval personnel also tamed men of the Nigerian Army (NA) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), who were later called in as reinforcement by Tantita.
The combined team of Tantita personnel and men of the NA and NSCDC were restricted 700 metres away from the scene of the illegal operations by the naval men.
As the naval personnel on the illegal collaborative assignment launched gun attacks, ostensibly to cover their tracks, Tantita officials, soldiers and men of NSCDC maintained reasonable distance, apparently to avoid casuality.
Impeccable findings showed that the action of the naval personnel was aimed at concealing the identity of the vessel and ensuring it sailed with the stolen crude out of the nation’s territorial water.
Investigation further revealed that as the face-off persisted, information about the incident filtered into the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
The NSA, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who was said to be livid over the relentless and unrepentant connivance of the men of the Navy with oil thieves, reportedly contacted the service chiefs, including the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, warning that the vessel must not be allowed to escape.
Ribadu also placed the NNPCL’s Chief Operating Officer, Mele Kyari and Presidency on red alert.
The Navy, in an volte-face, feigned the involvement of its personnel in the unpatriotic act.
Reliable sources said Ogalla subsequently directed his subordinates to apprehend the vessel in response to pressures from different quarters, including the Presidency.
As parts of the drama by the Navy to clear itself, it was gathered that the crew members of the vessels would be paraded in due course without the naval collaborators.
Reliable sources provided video clips from the scene at the coast of Ondo State, to authenticate the report.
Even after the purported arrest, it was further gathered that the Naval personnel refused a request by the officials of NNPCL that the vessel be moved to the NNPCL’s jetty at Oporoza for a joint inspection.
Oporoza jetty, is a recognised destination for previous illegal oil equipments and vessels seized by Tantita and other security agencies from illegal oil operators.
Observers are concerned about the handling of the fate of the vessel by the Nigerian Navy.
The concern was further accentuated by the tendency to exonerate its officials, who provided cover and escorting the vessel.
Also citing precedence, observers are also worried that the vessel
might either disappear without trace or its content emptied by the unscrupulous naval personnel.