By Lateef Adegbite and Elizabeth Chukwuma
Between September 2022 and now, there have been an undeclared war, between the Nigerian Navy, under the close watch of Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla and Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited linked to Government Ekpemupolo, popular, Tompolo, who incidentally was a former Leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta.
The private security outfit which had won the N48 billion contract from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPCL, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, that had been signed into Law by former President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2020 to protect the oil pipelines in the region from vandals had been alive to their duties.
The activities of the Tanita security personnel, who are used to the various routes and methods used by the oil thieves may have exposed the rot as the security company are been fought in all fronts to rubbish their work.
Only recently, the Tantita Security Services Management had revealed that four Naval officers stationed at the Forward Operation Base, FOB, Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre, were involved in oil theft forcing the naval authorities to come out smoking describing the claim as’’ a smear image campaign’’.
The Naval Authorities had said that the naval patrol teams who had foiled the attempted oil theft operation on the waterways near the Itolu Community in Lekki, Lagos, where the free Trade zone, funded by the state government, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and a Consortium of Chinese Companies, going by the name China-Africa Investment Limited, is located had been mistaken to be oil thieves by theTantita Security Services personnel .
In apparent response to the Nigerian Navy’s dismissal of the private security outfit management claims that four of its officers were involved in oil theft, the company had described the recent navy press statement to state their own position as’’ a cover up’’, stating that its men had pursued a motorised wooden boat that was illegally loading crude oil from an offshore oil Well Jacket.
The Tanita security services Nigeria Limited personnel may have become suspicious of the motorised wooden boat loaded with Crude oil because it was at the same Well jacket in OML 110 operated allegedly by Canvendish Petroleum Nigerian Limited, that MT TURA II was caught stealing crude a few months ago.
In arresting the motrised wooden boat loaded with Crude oil, the Company was said to have dispatched an advance team to locate the boat destination while a backup team consisting of six Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps , NSCDC, a component of the Nigerian Security Agencies, GSA, and eight members of Tantitata were assembled to follow through the lead.
The company had confirmed disclosed that with the help of local informants, they discovered that the motorised wooden boat loaded with stolen Crude oil was heading in the direction of Lagos, home state of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This may have strengthened their resolve to give it to its destination.
Giving an insider information of what transpired in the search for the mootorised wooden boat between the Tantita security services personnel and the Crew of the boat, the Management of the private security company had confirmed that when they sighted their staff approaching with their speed boat, they were forced ‘’to abandon the boat and fled in the direction of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operation Base in Ibeji Lekki, home of heavy industries in Lagos state.
It was not surising why the Tantita Security services and SCDC, personnel working together as a team had hastened efforts to give a hot pursuit to the criminal elements to arrest them. They got wrong.
Informed sources told The Value News that instead of the fleeing Crew of the motorised wooden boat being arrested as a show of evidence of their illegalities in Nigerian waters, it was the Tanita crew who were said to have come down to apprehend the Criminals elements that were eventually arrested by the vaval personnel.
The Navy may have made Nigerian public to understand that the Tantita patrol team was arrested following the realisation that ’’the four individuals are part of a movement of a large wooden boat laden with 11 x1000L Geepee tanks with product suspected to be stolen Crude Oil’’. And. The naval authorities had declared that’’ there was no evidence that the Tantita and GSA team gave a chase to the crew of the motorised wooden boat as alleged.
The Tanita Management had reported on Tuesday, August 29, 2023, that after the Naval personnel had overpowered the company’s Crew and arrested them, they have no option but to enter the motorised wooden boat and drove out the combined Tantita / GSA team trying to keep the boat and the evidence afloat.
It was no longer news whether the naval authorities or the Management of Tantita security services were right in their claims or not. The private security outfit management concern now is to facilitate release of the four detained personnel of the company who were said to have been arrested and detained by the navy while carrying out their legitimate duty.
This is where Nuhu Ribadu, a retired Inspector General of Police and former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFC,and now National Security Adviser, NSA, may have to intervene to pave the way for the release of the four detained Tantita personnel
The Tanita Security Services management may have shocked the bewildered Nigerians who are watching the unfolding drama between the two warring parties, when it disclosed that it already had the report of the outcome of the naval investigations into the activities of the four Tantita staff alleged to be oil thieves which are damning’’ but have kept it closely guided secret and refused ‘’to divulge it out of courtesy to the naval top hierarchy and the needs of the national security’’.
Many believe that the arrest of the four Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited personnel by the Navy over the last four days and subsequent parade on Television as oil thieves is to turn the heat on the company and to give room to the Nigerian President to cancel the N48 billion, yearly contract with NNPCL, for Surveillance and protection of the nation’s oil pipelines.
In spite of the moves by the Naval authorities to win the heart of Nigerians by dismissing claims that its men are involved in oil theft, Asari Dokubo, a former Niger Delta militant would want the navy to tell that to it to the marines. He had had repeated said that the huge oil bunkering in the region are owned by notorious naval Commanders that are the kingpins.
Dokubo, who many believe is a close ally of Tinubu was said to have brought to his knowledge in one of his visists to him at the Villa that ‘’there are powerful cabals, both in the military and at the Federal level, operating from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, whore involved in stealing the nation’s oil but that was how far he could go.
He was said to have told those that cares to listen that’ ’the ordinary Niger Delta citizens who are accused for the oil theft in the Niger Delta are actually not responsible as they do not have the wherewithal to perform such a sophisticated act of stealing which could only be perpetuated by the rich in collaboration with the navy.