Security Operatives of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, in collaboration with Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, have set ablaze an intercepted vessel carrying barrels of stolen crude oil in the Escravos area of Delta State.
The vessel was set ablaze by a military helicopter.
The vessel allegedly owned by a Nigerian registered company, was heading to Cameroon with the cargo onboard when it was apprehended at an offshore location with the captain and crew members onboard.
According to the Executive Director of Operations and Technical at Tantita Security, Captain Warred Enisuoh and the Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Olusegun Ferreira, the oil cargo was illegally sourced from a well-jacketed offshore in Ondo State with no valid documentation at the time of the arrest.
The said vessel had operated in stealth mode for the last 12 years.
The discovery was the latest in the series of disturbing findings by the Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a security outfit owned by former militant leader Government Ekpemepulo aka Tompolo and contracted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.
In October 2022, security agents also destroyed a vessel used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks after the vessel was reportedly arrested by Tompolo’s firm.
The destruction of the vessel generated controversy as some Nigerians fumed at the action of security agents, saying the vessel should have been preserved as an exhibit to prosecute the owners of the vessel.
The House of Representatives subsequently said it would investigate the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the oil bunkering vessel by security agents.
However, the Federal Government defended the swift destruction of the vessel, saying it was in line with the rules of engagement.
The then Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, said the vessel was caught in the act and security agents subsequently set the “instrument of operation” ablaze, noting that no investigation is needed to carry out the action.
A Malignant Cancer?
Oil theft has become a malignant cancer in Nigeria for years with unimaginable volumes of oil being lifted by some cabals in the oil sector.
Last year, the NNPC said it uncovered an illegal oil connection from Forcados Terminal that operated for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period.
Similarly, Tompolo said about 58 illegal oil points have been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began.
Former Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State had said the Federal Government has failed in the oil and gas business and should get out of the sector.
El-Rufai had also called for the privatisation of the NNPC and said the company has been declaring profit without dividends.
The ex-governor said that whatever the government manages turns out bad and noted that the sectors doing well in the country like entertainment, telecoms, fintech and others have no government involvement.