By ENYERIBE EJIOGU
it was a sad end for a naval admiral, who was known within the force as a tough nut to crack. He operated successfully and effectively as he used the intelligence available to him to ensure that the right things were done within the force.
All through his life and career in the navy, which was cut short by death in questionable circumstances, Admiral Daniel Ikoli believed that Nigeria would be right when the right things were done and at the appropriate time.
For instance, as a Commander (Lieutenant Colonel equivalent), Admiral Ikoli, then working under Rear Admiral Anthonio Bob-Manuel as the Command Intelligence Officer (CINTO), Western Naval Command was at the centre of the arrest of crude oil thieves who had been stealing crude oil from the nation’s oil pipelines.
When the Western Naval Command spread its dragnet in the waterways, several vessels belonging to highly placed Nigerians were arrested and detained within the Command.
Indeed, a key naval personnel told Sunday Sun that Ikoli as Lieutenant Commander, and the CINTO of Western Naval Command, oversaw the arrest and investigation of those vessels and the successful trial of the oil thieves in the Bob-Manuel era.
Naval sources said the number of vessels arrested within a few months of Ikoli’s duty tour as CINTO Western Naval Command was unprecedented in Nigerian Navy history.
It was also revealed that under Ikoli as CINTO Western Naval Command that an oil tanker was caught with huge tonnage of stolen crude oil and later spirited away by some naval officers who connived with the culprits.
That incident, Sunday Sun gathered, led to the dismissal of two senior officers of the force. After that incident, Ikoli went out of the public glare for a long time, but was working underground within the force and attending courses, which led to his promotion to the rank of Navy Captain (Colonel equivalent) and later Navy Commodore (Brigadier General equivalent).
At the rank of Commodore, Ikoli returned again to the Western Naval Command as the Commander, NNS Beecroft, the operational base charged with the responsibility of protecting the country’s territorial waters in Lagos.
As Commander, NNS Beecroft, the officer had an operational base (Forward Operation Base, FOB Igbokoda) under his command, so he was in touch with happenings in the Igbokoda area of Ondo State, especially concerning oil theft.
No sooner had he arrived than he started operations to stifle the activities of pipeline vandals and oil thieves within the Western Naval Command area of operations.
Indeed, two weeks after he assumed office as the Commander, NNS Beecroft, he launched an operation against the pipeline vandals in the Ikorodu area of Lagos.
In fact, he made the business of oil theft in that area less lucrative and in one single operation over 50 pipeline vandals were arrested and products enough to fill 10 tankers were recovered from the vandals.
It was his success in the operation to rid Ikorodu of vandals and secure the country’s oil and its pipelines that led to his appointment into the Presidential Committee on Arms Importation.
It is instructive that while serving in the presidential committee, he never relented in the campaign to burnish the image of Navy. He continued to fish out those who were given money to purchase arms but failed to do what they were supposed to do but rather converted the funds to private use.
A naval source told Sunday Sun that Ikoli was instrumental to the findings that led to the questioning of two naval chiefs, who were subsequently asked to refund money to the coffers of the government. Former chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin was asked to refund N600million diverted from Navy account. Also, recently former chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba was asked to refund N1.8billion to the government.
Apart from these two, the arms committee had also indicted several military officers. Some were retired while some were asked to refund huge sums of money. Some others were detained preparatory to being tried by the government.
Based on his work in the arms committee, the officer had raised alarm that his life was in danger, fearing that those he indicted might come after him.
When the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), commissioned the 13-man committee in August 2015, the brief given to it was to investigate the procurement of hardware and munitions in the Armed Forces between 2007 and 2015.
After the committee had submitted its third interim report, which indicted several former service chiefs and other retired and serving senior armed forces personnel, President Muhammadu Buhari gave Ikoli and some other members of the committee special promotions in recognition of their high level of dedication, immense commitment and honesty while serving in the committee.
After the committee was disbanded in 2016, the late Ikoli reported to the naval headquarters in Abuja to be debriefed and was redeployed to Lagos.