As Nigeria grapples with the effect of oil theft on the national economy, it appears the agencies charged with the task of putting a stop to the menace are working at cross purpose. The Explainer gathered that the Nigeria Navy and Tantita Security Services, a company contracted by the government to protect oil pipelines, track and provide intelligence on crude oil theft have been at loggerheads. Recently, Tantita vehemently denied allegations made by the Nigerian Navy, accusing four of its personnel of engaging in crude oil theft. The company labelled the accusations as a “smear campaign” and claimed there was a “possible cover-up.” Tantita’s denial was contained in a six-page statement issued by its management.
However, the Navy has insisted that its officers stationed at the Forward Operation Base (FOB), foiled an attempt to steal crude oil by four individuals suspected to be staff of Tantita security company. In the statement shared by the Navy, the incident happened around the waterways near Itolu community in the early hours of Tuesday, August 29. “Upon arrival at the scene, the naval team encountered four individuals dressed in black polo shirts with ‘Tantita’ inscribed on the back, attempting to recover a dismantled outboard engine from a local,” the statement said.
“The team recovered the engine and apprehended the four Tantita employees. It was after this arrest that the Patrol Team realized that the four individuals were part of a group operating a large wooden boat with two fiber boats. The four arrested individuals signaled the two fiber boats to approach them, but when they noticed NN patrol teams, the boats altered their course, fled, and abandoned the large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000L Geepee tanks containing suspected stolen crude oil,” the statement by the Navy added.
Denying the claim by the Navy, Tantita security asserted that its personnel were pursuing a motorized wooden boat they deemed to be “illegally” loading crude oil from an offshore oil well jacket. “So it would be seen that at the time of 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,” the security company narrated.