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STOLEN OIL VESSEL: Tinubu orders probe to reveal barons, 23 already arrested

STOLEN OIL VESSEL: Tinubu orders probe to reveal barons, 23 already arrested  

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has ordered a probe into the arrest of an oil bunkering vessel, MT Kali, in the offshore location of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Bayelsa State.

The investigation team is headed by the chief of defence intelligence (CDI), Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye. The team has the mandate to unmask the barons of the illicit business deal.

The chief of defence staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa, made this disclosure when he led a high-powered presidential delegation to inspect the ship detained at Oporoza, Warri South West local government area of Delta State, yesterday.

Already 23 persons, including the captain, engineer and chief officer of the ship, have been arrested and detained in the ocean-going equipment.

The suspects, especially the captain and chief, were paraded and interrogated by the CDS and Undiandeye during Monday’s visit.

Other members of the team are the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla; group chief executive officer (GCEO), Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mallam Mele Kyari;  executive vice-president (Upstream), NNPCL, Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan, and chief upstream investment officer, NNPCL, Mr. Bala Wunti, among other military top brass and top officials of NNPCL.

The vessel was arrested by a combined team of the personnel of a private surveillance security provider, Tantita Security Services Limited (TSSL), operated by a former militant commander in the Niger Delta, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at Pennington field of SPDC in the oil-rich Bayelsa state, on Thursday.

They had piped 119 metric tonnes of crude oil (about 850 barrels) into one of the manifolds of the ship before the security operatives swooped on them.

Musa, who described the arrest of the ship as a major accomplishment in the ongoing war against crude oil theft and other sharp practices associated with petroleum products, hailed the operators of TSSL for achieving the feat.

Musa, who was received and briefed by the group managing director and executive director of TSSL, Chief Keston Pondi, and Captain Warriedi Enisuoh, respectively, said the team was on a fact-finding visit on the orders of the president.

He said, “So why we’re here, on the order of the president, is to come and see to identify them and the chief of defence intelligence is going to go straight into investigation as to who is involved, what was taken, who sent them, and this is because we want to catch the perpetrators.

“These ones are just the ground troops that are being used, the main actors are there behind, and I want to use this opportunity to warn all those that don’t want to stop this that enough is enough.”

Musa called for a synergy and sustained collaboration between the private security providers and the security agencies in order to achieve the target of eliminating all sharp practices associated with petroleum products exploration and distribution.

He described the arrest of the MT Kali as a product of collaboration and synergy.

He added, “This is a collaborative effort and we will continue to collaborate with the NNPCL and the others, especially private security agencies.

The main federal government agencies are also working together. I don’t want a situation where we act as if there’s enmity between this group and that group.

“The country is bleeding. We need all the efforts so that this country can grow and develop and we can only achieve that just by stopping criminals like this,” he added.

 

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