From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A Niger Delta based Transparency group, Coalition of Niger Delta Stakeholders Forum has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over the alleged complicity of the Nigerian Navy personnel in several cases of crude oil theft in the region.
According to the group, despite the concerted efforts by the various newly engaged anti-crude oil surveillance contractors to counter the cases of theft and pipeline vandalisation, some personnel of the Nigerian Navy in collusion with some individuals are allegedly still engaging in crude oil theft, and pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta region,
The group, in the petition dated 18th January, 2023 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari titled “Petition Against The Nigerian Navy’s Leadership For Allegedly Engaging In Illicit Crude Oil Theft, Trade, And Pipeline Vandalisation in the Niger Delta Region: We Call For Credible Investigations Against The Leadership Of The Nigeria Navy, On Allegations Of Insubordination, Theft Of Our National Resources And Acts Of Treason” claimed that the alleged activities of the accused naval personnel is grossly impeding the efforts of the oil pipeline Surveillance contractors.
The petition, which was signed by Dr. Akpan O. Essien, Chief Williams Erepatei, Mr Adeleke S. Olubunmi, Mr James Ipalibo, Dr. Mrs. Ejiro P. Obohvie, stated that a probe of illegal activities of naval personnel in the Niger Delta region would be one of the enduring legacies of President Buhari.
While commending the Group Managing Director of the NNPCL, Mallam Mele Kyari for standing his ground to fight oil theft even at the risk of his life, they called for a credible investigation from the Presidency to bring all culpable to book.
The petition read in part, “One of the biggest problems and obstacles to the success of the fight against pipeline vandalism and oil theft it seems comes from the very security institutions mandated to secure and guide our territorial waterways and government infrastructure, it is no surprise that the federal government withdrew the services of the Nigerian Civil Defence Force from protecting the national assets of pipeline infrastructure after much outcry backed with evidence of the collusion of the civil defence service and oil thieves in ripping the nation off.
“In a disturbing video and audio recording obtained from our sources in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Nigerian Navy is neck deep in the illicit trade of pipeline vandalisation and oil theft. After a vessel suspected with loaded stolen crude was apprehended by Tantita Security operatives on the 14 of January 2023, the Nigerian Navy personnel appeared from the blues to beat up and later interrogated operatives of Tantita Security.
It beats logic that the Nigerian Navy did not interrogate nor beat the crew of the vessel suspected of ferrying stolen crude, rather the Nigerian Navy after taking the operatives of Tantita Security outfit to their base forced and intimidated operatives of Tantita Security to delete all video and audio evidence gathered against the suspect vessel and crew.”
The group therefore demanded the Presidency to swing to action and commence a probe against the Nigerian Navy to end oil theft.