Operatives of the Tantita Security Services Nigeria Ltd (TSSNL) has intercepted an allegedly stolen vessel laden with suspected crude oil in Koko area of Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State.
This is the latest in a series of incidents involving the theft of crude oil in Nigeria in recent times.
TSSNL is a private security company owned by erstwhile leader of Niger Delta agitators, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, who recently got a contract from the Federal Government to protect oil and gas pipelines.
It was gathered that the vessel with 1, 117 tons capacity, reportedly intercepted on Wednesday, was said to be carrying about 8,100 barrels of suspected crude oil and was being allegedly escorted by some naval officers allegedly led by a commodore.
Recall that an ex-Niger Delta agitator, Asari Dokubo, had told the world at the State House, Abuja, after meeting with President Bola Tinubu recently that some corrupt military officers were tacitly involved in the stealing of Nigeria’s crude oil.
Operatives of the TSSNL, who were said to be on a routine patrol, said the vessel, tagged MT Praisel, was flying a Togolese flag and was being escorted by a Navy boat led by the senior naval commander.
They said they met a stiff resistance from the navy boat escorting the vessel and that the naval commander threatened to deal decisively with them.
The operatives of TSSNL, however, said they refused to back down, but eventually contacted the National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu and the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, who then authorised they should inspect the vessel.
During the inspection, they noticed that the vessel was authorised to carry products by the navy, but did not have any approvals from the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), the authority saddled with the regulation of the midstream and downstream petroleum operations in Nigeria, for the voyage.
Meanwhile, amid sketchy details, officials of the NNPCL are believed to be on their way to Okporoza, where the thieving vessel is being held, to begin their investigation.
Recall that the Federal Government, under the watch of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it would not tolerate further depletion of the oil economy of the country via stolen crude oil which has inflicted significant economic losses on Nigeria to the tune of N2.3 trillion in 12 months.