March 2, 2024

Oil Theft: Nigeria Navy committed arson for setting stolen crude oil vessel ablaze- Falana 

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Oredola Adeola

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has indicted the Nigerian Navy of arson for setting a vessel laden with crude oil on the creeks of Escravos ablaze, after it was arrested by operatives of Tantita Security Services Ltd (TSSL) linked to Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, in Delta State.

Falana made this known in a live telecast on  Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, monitored by EnergyDay on Monday.

The Human rights lawyer however called for the sack of General Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for supporting the swift destruction of the oil bunkering vessel.

According to him, the military acted contrary to section 111 of the Armed Forces Act, as it is only the Federal High Court that is empowered to order the interim or final forfeiture of any vessel that was used for conveying stolen crude oil.

The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS Delta) had on Monday set the vessel, with Registration Number L85 B9.50, laden with 600 to 650 cubic metres of illegally-lifted crude oil in five compartments ablaze.

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor said that the swift destruction of the oil bunkering vessel is in line with the “rules of engagement” and no investigation was needed to set the vessel ablaze.

The SAN, while condemning the action of the Navy, said security agencies committed arson and acted in contravention to section 111 of the Armed Forces Act which prohibits the setting ablaze of a vessel, and demanded the sacking of the CDS.

He insisted however charged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that all those involved in the oil theft including the owners of the vessel are arrested and prosecuted. He also insisted that those found complicit in the illegal act must be brought to book, sacked and shamed.

He blamed oil theft on system collapse and connivance of military and political leaders alongside oil companies lifting Nigeria’s oil illegally to ports in the United States.

Speaking further, he noted that the award of a pipeline surveillance contract to Tantita Security Services, a company linked to Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo former militant leader, was a loss of confidence in the competence of the military.

The private security company had recently announced the discovery of 58 illegal oil points since the multi-billion Naira operation started in August.

He said,  “The surveillance contract was a colossal embarrassment to security agencies in the country.

“The President has demonstrably lost confidence in the competence of the military hence a contract has been awarded to a non-state actor, Mr. Government aka Tompolo who is said to be making these discoveries now.

“That itself is a colossal embarrassment to a state that is supposed to be functional,”

“Ordinarily, the service chiefs should simply have resigned that Mr President you have lost confidence in us,” he said.

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