Oil Theft: Navy Takes War to Criminals’ Domain – Ogalla - 9japarrot


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Saturday 5 August 2023

Oil Theft: Navy Takes War to Criminals’ Domain – Ogalla


By Nurat Uthman

The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, has said the Navy is poised on taking the war against oil theft, and economic sabotage in the maritime sector to the criminals.

Ogalla spoke, yesterday, while on a familiarisation tour to Naval facilities in Rivers State.

He said the Navy would improve its surveillance capabilities and also beam its searchlight more on the creeks and riverine areas, where illegal oil bunkering activities take place more.

He emphasised that the move would enable the Navy to strike the criminals even before they go into the act.

Ogalla said: “We are going to improve our surveillance capabilities. We want to strike the criminals even before they go into the act. We want to arrest them while they are planning and thinking about it.  We do not want to be on the defensive. We want to take the war to the criminals and get them even before they start the act.”

While reacting to the allegations of involvement of personnel in oil theft, the CNS noted that such claims were unfounded, adding that several investigations carried out showed that most of the allegations were not true.

Meanwhile, the Naval Headquarters has debunked the arrest of MT Praisel, saying: “The attention of the Naval Headquarters has been drawn to publications and news reports in the media on the arrest of Motor Tanker (MT) Praisel by a private security outfit, Tantita Security Service Limited (TSSL) for suspected illegal oil bunkering.

“The publication further alleged that the vessel was escorted by a Nigerian Navy (NN) boat and it averred that TSSL’s operation had the backing of the National Security Adviser and Chief of the Naval Staff.

“To put the record straight and avoid the misrepresentation of facts to unsuspecting members of the public as portrayed, MT Praisel was duly approved by Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to load 1,114,721 litres of High Pour Fuel Oil (HPFO) from Greenmac Energy Storage/Tarus Jetty Koko from July 26 to August 8, 2023.

“This has been substantiated by NMDPRA. In line with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and to ensure strict compliance with the NMDPRA approval, Naval personnel were deployed onboard to monitor the discharge of the product by MT Praisel at a facility at Bonny.

“However, on August 2, 2023, TSSL claiming to act on intelligence, alleged that the vessel was laden with stolen crude oil and thereafter, approached an element of Operation Delta Safe to board the vessel in order to verify the alleged stolen product.

He said: “The issue of allegations of involvement of our personnel with oil theft, you know this is the age of social media and many people who do not even have the full details will just put something up there but if you go through some of these allegations and you investigate them you will find out that the bases of these allegations are unfounded.

Ogalla continued: “For instance, somebody will just see a vessel somewhere and will assume that the military is involved but he does not even know there is proper approval from NNPC for the vessel to load crude he will put it on social media that he saw some military men onboard a vessel and the vessel deals with illegal bunkering without having the correct information.

“But whatever the case may be, anytime we receive such allegations we will investigate it properly. It has a very severe consequence ranging from imprisonment, and dismissal which we apply on some.”

Among the areas the Chief of Naval Staff visited were; Onshore facilities at the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT), Onne; Naval Training College, Onne; Foward Operating Base(FOB), Bonny; Nigerian Basic Training School, Onne, Naval Medical Centre, Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School and the Naval Shipyard Limited, Borikiri, Port Harcourt.

“Accordingly, the NN directed the vessel to Forward Operating Base ESCRAVOS anchorage for further investigation of the product onboard. The samples of the product onboard MT PRAISEL were collected on Thursday, August 3, 2023 by five agencies including NNPCL, NMDPRA and also TSSL in line with laid procedures for laboratory test and verification of the claim.

“As the lead agency in the fight against maritime crimes, the NN has always been at the vanguard of supporting every single effort to halt economic saboteurs of our country. 

Therefore, while it is desirable for all hands to be on deck in the fight against crude oil theft, necessary precaution must be adhered to by all stakeholders to avoid unnecessary impediment to legitimate commercial activities and businesses in the maritime environment that have far reaching consequences for the nation’s economy.

“The NN, therefore, appeals to the general public to await the laboratory test result of the product and in-depth investigations on allegation.

“The NN under the leadership of Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla is poised to ensure transparency and renewed effort towards interagency cooperation and synergy in the fight against illegalities and criminality in Nigeria’s Maritime Environment particularly oil theft.”

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