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Oil Theft: Tompolo’s security services exposes cover-up by Nigerian Navy, insists intercepted MT PRAISEL was on illegal operation

The management of the TANTITA Security Services Nigeria Limited owned by Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo, on Saturday deflected the Nigeria Navy, NN, claims that the MT PRAISEL, vessel intercepted by Tantita, was not on illegal operation when it was anchored off Escravos roads for further investigation by the private security organization.

 

The security firm in the forefront of the campaign against oil theft insisted that the intercepted vessel was on illegal operation as it changed its approved destination when the operatives accosted it and arrested the occupants of the vessel.

 

The management in a statement on Saturday gave a vivid account of how its operatives intercepted the vessel.

 

It stated that on the 1st of August 2023, its operatives got a valid credible intelligence that a vessel which obtained NMDPRA approval to deliver HPFO from Koko to Lagos offshore was moving in the opposite direction.

 

It explained that on the 2nd of August 2023, Tantita operatives approached the MT PRAISEL as it made its way through a creek in Delta State off Benin River. The private security firm said that there were naval personnel aboard the vessel.

 

The management said this took place before the Tantita inspection crew which includes officers and men from the Operation Delta Safe, an Inter Service Task Force for fighting crude oil theft, amongst other things in the Niger Delta.

 

According to firm, the intelligence suggested that the vessel ought to be sailing to Lagos, but the Masters of the vessel indicated he was sailing to Bonny.

 

At that moment, the management said Tantita requested for the naval clearance and the documentation showed by the Masters of the vessel indicated Koko as it’s port of discharge for storage only, stressing that there was nothing indicating Bonny as port of discharge in that documents.

 

It stressed that in line with the standard procedure, Tantita requested for further clarification from the crew as to the discrepancy between NMDPRA permit and sought the naval clearance and permission, to take samples of cargo on board.

 

Tantita said the request irritated and infuriated the Naval personnel on board, who requested and ordered the Tantita personnel to immediately disembark from the vessel.

 

Tantita said its operatives had no option than to escalate the issue to higher authorities, who mandated that the vessel be anchored off Escravos roads for further investigation.

 

According to Tantita, it dispatched personnel to collect samples from the vessel on the 3rd of August 2023.

 

It listed those present at the place of collections on the 3rd of August 2023 to include the Nigerian Navy, Tantita and the NSCDC.

 

The management said Tantita personnel were still on board the vessel collecting samples, when the news broke in the media, that they have intercepted vessel with stolen products.

 

The company said it was shocked when the Naval Headquarters’ press statement appeared to indicate that the NMDPRA gave approval to the MT PRAISEL to proceed to Bonny for discharge of crude the following day.

 

Tantita management insisted that Bonny was not the approved port of discharge.

 

The management maintained that in the case of MT PRAISEL, there were reasonable grounds to be suspicious of its movement towards the opposite direction from the NMDPRA clearance contrary to the Naval Headquarters’ press release on the issue of who was present on Thursday the 3rd of August 2023.

 

Tantita said it was on Friday, August 4, 2023, that a staff of NMDPRA, first came on board to take samples from the cargo for laboratory analysis.

 

According to them, while it was their honest belief that the Naval Headquarters’ press statement was actuated by the best motives, it clearly raised posers and questions which, the management said are begging for answers.

 

The management wants to know why NMDPRA approved port of discharge (Lagos Offshore), different from the Navy clearance (Koko as storage), adding that they were both different from the port of discharge as indicated in the Naval press statement (Bonny).

 

Full statement reads.

 

“On the 3rd of August 2023, news of a vessel the MT PRAISEL intercepted by Tantita broke on a news channel, while investigations were still ongoing, contrary to our corporate practices. As would be noted no official statement from Tantita or any of her directors or top management accompanied the news story.

 

“While Tantita was investigating the source of the news leak, on the 4th of August 2023 Naval Headquarters issued a press statement.

 

“We at Tantita have conducted our investigation undeterred by press reports, careful not to jeopardize our investigations while conscious of our responsibilities to the public.

 

“The fight against oil theft has been grueling but successful in the last one year and the biggest secret of that success is the extent of collaboration between the community based private surveillance companies particularly, TANTITA and the Government Security Agencies.

 

“Therefore, this is to affirm the partnership with hundreds and thousands of Government Security Agents, officers and men of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as the intelligence agencies who have put their lives at risk in the service of the nation.

 

“For example, barely three weeks ago there was an ambush by oil thieves along the Ahoada axis of Rivers State where private surveillance personnel and GSAs came under deadly fire and a Nigerian Army soldier paid the ultimate price, amidst frantic efforts by our private security operatives to rush him to medical care.

 

“This goes to show the close working relationship between private surveillance operatives and the security agencies.

 

“However on the 1st of August 2023, Tantita received credible intelligence that a vessel which had obtained NMDPRA approval to deliver HPFO from Koko to LAGOS OFFSHORE would be proceeding in the opposite direction. On the 2nd of August 2023 Tantita operatives approached the MT PRAISEL as it made its way through a creek in Delta State off Benin River.

 

“On board the vessel were Naval personnel, while the Tantita inspection crew included officers and men from the Operation Delta Safe (the inter service task force for fighting crude oil theft, amongst other things in the Niger Delta).

 

“The intelligence suggested that the vessel ought to be sailing to Lagos, but the Master of the vessel indicated he was sailing to Bonny. Tantita requested for the naval clearance and the documentation showed by the Masters of the vessel indicated Koko as port of discharge for storage only, there was nothing indicating Bonny as port of discharge in that document.

 

“In line with standard procedure, Tantita requested for further clarification from the crew as to the discrepancy between NMDPRA permit and the naval clearance and permission to take samples of cargo on board.

 

“Understandably, this infuriated the Naval personnel on board who requested Tantita personnel to immediately disembark from the vessel.

 

“Tantita had no option but to escalate the issue to higher authorities who mandated that the vessel be anchored off Escravos roads for further investigation.

 

“Tantita dispatched her personnel to collect samples from the vessel on the 3rd of August 2023. Those present at the Dme of collecti on the 3rd of August 2023 were the Nigerian Navy, Tantita and the NSCDC.

 

“Tantia personnel were still on board the vessel collecting samples when the news broke in the media.

 

“The following day, Tantita woke up to the Naval Headquarters’ press statement which appears to indicate that the NMDPRA gave approval to the MT PRAISEL to proceed to Bonny for discharge.

 

“We are yet to see that documentation, and as we noted above the Nigerian Navy clearance we saw did not also state Bonny as port of discharge.

 

“There are many vessels plying this area but Tantita does not board them, intelligence has to be credible.

 

“In the circumstances, there were reasonable grounds to be suspicious of the movement of MT PRAISEL in the opposite direction from the NMDPRA clearance seen. Contrary to the Naval Headquarters’ press release on the issue of who was present on Thursday the 3rd of August 2023, it was on Friday the 4th of August 2023 that a staff of NMDPRA first came on board to take samples from the cargo holds for laboratory analysis.

 

“While it is our honest belief that the Naval Headquarters’ press statement was actuated by the best motives, clearly there are questions which beg for answers.

 

“For example, why is NMDPRA approved port of discharge (Lagos Offshore) different from the Navy clearance (Koko as storage) and why are both different from the port of discharge indicated in the Naval press statement (Bonny)?

 

“In the course of several joint meetings, we have consistently asked for a single clearing house for all approvals so that each agency of government can see what the other is approving or has approved.

 

“We are all aware that unscrupulous elements can take advantage of existing gaps in procedures to clandestinely transport and sell stolen crude and illegally refined products.

 

“For example, a truck can load legitimate products at a licensed depot and pass on its papers and license plates to another truck carrying illegal products at a side road and if we rely on the papers alone the illegal cargo with the legitimate papers would beat the system. Same for motor tanker vessels.

 

“At Tantita, it is our resolve that we will not allow a situation where the small fry is chased out of the illegal business only for the big fish to remain in business.

 

“A single 10 tonner vessel will do more damage to our economy in a single voyage than 1000 dugout canoes carrying jerrycans.

 

“And while the illegality with the dugout canoe is a crime of need the illegality with the 10 tonner vessel is a crime of greed.

 

“Please find atached

 

(1) NMDPRA Approval

 

(2) Naval Clearance.

 

SIGNED MANAGEMENT

 

TANTITA SECURITY SERVICES NIGERIA LIMITED

 

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