he Nigeria Navy Headquarters, has debunked allegations in a publication that Navy personnel aboard Motor Tanker (MT) PRAISEL were aiding oil theft.
The Navy’s Director of Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, said on Friday that the personnel only escorted the vessel for thorough investigation of its contents.
Ayo-Vaughan said that MT PRAISEL is owned by a private security outfit, Tantita Security Service Limited (TSSL).
He said TSSL 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 Aug. 8.
This, he said, had been substantiated by NMDPRA.
According to him, in line with Standard Operating Procedure and strict compliance with the NMDPRA approval, navy personnel were deployed on-board to monitor the discharge of the product by MT PRAISEL at a facility in Bonny.
“However, on Aug. 2, 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.
“Accordingly, the NN directed the vessel to Forward Operating Base ESCRAVOS anchorage for further investigation of the product on-board.
“The samples of the product on-board MT PRAISEL were collected on Thursday August 3, 2023 by five agencies including Nigerian National Petroleum Company (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,” he said.
The Naval Spokesman said that while it was desirable for all hands to be on deck in the fight against crude oil theft, necessary precaution must be adhered to by all stakeholders.
This he said was to avoid unnecessary impediment to legitimate commercial activities and businesses in the maritime environment that have far reaching consequences for the nation’s economy.
He appealed to the general public to await the laboratory test result of the product and in-depth investigations on the allegation.
According to him, the Nigerian navy under the able leadership of Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, is poised to ensure transparency, interagency cooperation and synergy in the fight against illegalities and criminality in Nigeria’s maritime environment.