Warri – Following the alleged arrest of four operatives of the Tantita Security Services Nigeria Ltd (TSSNL) with stolen crude oil by the Nigerian Navy on Thursday 31st, August, the security Company has come out with the facts about what transpired.
A statement, credited to Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Commodore Kolawole Olumide Oguntuga, informing the world of the arrest of four Tantita operatives for allegedly attempting to steal crude oil, has since drawn reaction from well spirited individuals.
This allegation came amid calls from goodspirited public on the need for the Federal Government to renew the Pipeline Surveillance Contract awarded to TSSNL, which expired August 31, 2023.
Commodore Oguntuga, in his statement, had claimed that in the early hours of August 29, 2023, there was an attempt by Tantita operatives to steal crude which they foiled along Ubeji-Lekki area of Lagos following a tip-off.
In a statement made available to journalists in the early hours of Saturday in Warri, Delta State, the management of TSSNL, with two video evidence, accused the navy of deliberate blackmail, harassment and a misinformation of the public about the incident.
In the statement dated 1st September 1, 2023 with the title: “The Arrest of Tantita Operatives and Parade by the Nigerian Navy – A Tragedy-comedy of Errors,” TSSNL, owned by former agitator, Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, gave details of the incident as follows:
“Yesterday the 31st of August 2023 the world woke up to a news story credited to the Commander, NNS BEECROFT of the Nigeria Navy, Commodore Kolawole Olumide Oguntuga, that the Nigerian Navy arrested four Tantita personnel for alleged crude oil theft. It would have been comedy, if it was not tragedy.
The Navy is a constitutional institution mandated to keep Nigeria’s seaward borders safe from invasion, criminality and free for economic activities. Tantita respects the institution and its constitutional mandate. And it was out of that respect that a couple of weeks ago when there was a face off between the service and Tantita over the MT Praisel, our organisation preferred to leave the Nigerian Navy to have the last word on the issue. It was our belief at the time that the matter was a misunderstanding which could have been better handled for the good of the nation and the common objective of Tantita and the Navy – the prevention of economic sabotage by oil thieves plying their nefarious trade on our nation’s waterways.
“However the present incident, coming barely three weeks after, does not seem to support that notion. What seems to be playing is a poorly written tragicomedy. The Nigerian Navy’s story is that in the early hours of August 29, 2023 there was an attempt by Tantita operatives to steal crude which they foiled. They claim to have been responding to distress calls from youths in Itolou Community in the Lekki axis of Lagos, and “reviewing the information, Naval patrol teams immediately launched a response operation.
“Upon arrival at the scene, the Naval team met four individuals dressed in black polo shirts with TANTITA inscribed on the back, trying to recover a dismantled outboard engine from a local. The team recovered the engine and apprehended the four Tantita Employees.
“According to the Nigerian Navy’s statement, “It was after this arrest that the patrol team realized that the four individuals are part of a movement of a large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000L Geepee tanks with product suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“So, it would be seen that at the time of the arrest, the only crime that the Tantita operatives were alleged to have committed was trying to recover a dismantled outboard engine. Thus, recovering outboard engines is now a crime. More interesting is the absence of a link between the outboard engine recovery story and the sudden epiphany – the realization by the navy patrol team that the four individuals they arrested are part of a movement of a large wooden boat at sea carrying stolen crude oil. The disjoint in the story is jarring.
“On the other hand, this is what happened in fact. On Monday the 28th of August 2023 at about 0130hours a Tantita Security Services Patrol team operating in the Ondo State area received credible intelligence that a motorised wooden boat was illegally loading crude oil from an Offshore Oil Well Jacket – in fact the same Well Jacket in OML 110 operated by Cavendish Petroleum Nigeria Limited, where the MT TURA II was caught stealing Crude Oil a few months ago.
“An advance team was dispatched to find the wooden boat while a back up team consisting of Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps (NSCDC) component of the Government Security Agencies (GSA) was assembled to follow through on the lead. While we cannot name the NSCDC personnel for obvious reasons, they were six in number and our personnel were eight not four in number. The advance team with the help of local fisherfolk was able to determine that the motorised wooden boat was heading in the direction of Lagos and gave hot pursuit. Upon noticing the approaching Tantita teams the crew of the motorised wooden boat abandoned the wooden boat for their speed boat. One team of Tantita and NSCDC personnel boarded the wooden boat to secure the evidence while another team gave it a hot pursuit.
“There is video evidence of the Tantita team together with NSCDC personnel coming alongside the wooden boat, boarding and attempting to secure the boat.
“We now have the outcome of their investigation in that poorly digested press release.
“There are even more damning revelations, which out of courtesy to the Navy hierarchy and the needs of national security we will not divulge on the pages of a newspaper. The continued detention by the Nigerian Navy of these five brave, selfless Nigerians who risked their lives on the high seas to protect our commonwealth is a disservice to our nation.”The statement added.