The Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL), a private security firm contracted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL), has revealed a suspected conspiracy by the Nigerian Navy to mislead the public over the seizure of a ship, purportedly supervised by naval personnel, for suspected oil smuggling in Delta State.
The TSSNL, overseen by former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, reportedly acted based on intelligence to locate the ship, MT PRAISEL, harboring 8,100 liters of alleged crude oil on the Koko waterways in Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State.
Naval Headquarters’ Director of Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, refuted the ship’s involvement in oil smuggling. He stated that MT PRAISEL was officially permitted by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to transport 1,114,721 Liters of High Pour Fuel Oil (HPFO) from Greenmac Energy Storage/Tarus Jetty Koko between July 26 and August 8, 2023. He added that Navy personnel were stationed on the ship to ensure compliance with the NMDPRA’s directive.
However, TSSNL has contested the Navy’s account, stating that they received reliable intelligence that the vessel, which was supposed to deliver HPFO from Koko to Lagos Offshore, was heading in the opposite direction. TSSNL operatives intercepted the vessel as it navigated through a creek in Delta State, off the Benin River.
Despite the Navy’s irritation, TSSNL insisted on clarifying the discrepancy between the NMDPRA permit and the naval clearance, and requested to examine samples of the cargo onboard. This led to the escalation of the issue to higher authorities, who ordered the ship to anchor off Escravos roads for further investigation.
TSSNL expressed concerns over the differing accounts of the vessel’s destination in the NMDPRA approval, the naval clearance, and the naval press statement. The security firm is advocating for a unified process for all approvals to ensure transparency and prevent the clandestine transportation and sale of stolen crude and illegally refined products.
IMAGE: Nigeria Crime