Economic sabotage: 13 Naval Officers, Ratings In Trouble

*Face General Court Martial For Connivance, Oil Theft

Thirteen officers and ratings of the Nigerian Navy have been charged before a General Court Martial at the Western Naval Command headquarters, Lagos by Naval authorities. The affected Naval personnel are being arraigned for offences bordering on conniving with crude oil thieves, pipeline vandalism and other maritime infractions.

According to the Vanguard newspapers, the affected Naval officers are facing the court martial for connived with people and traditional rulers in some Niger Delta oil producing communities to operate suspected illegal refineries with siphoned crude oil against warnings by the Navy directing its personnel against such acts. The arrangement, an unnamed Naval officer volunteered, is to demonstrate the agency’s complete aversion to crude oil theft.

“The Navy has routinely warned its personnel to desist from any act of involvement or compromise with oil thieves.

”As a matter of fact, to demonstrate the zero tolerance of the Navy for COT (crude oil theft), some officers who at a time were alleged to be complicit in COT are presently facing charges before a court martial.”

Meanwhile, Naval authorities say its determination to rid the nation’s maritime domain of criminality have successfully foiled oil stealing, illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism and stealing of crude oil and its products worth over N25 billion since April this year.

Director of Naval Information, Commodore AO Ayo-Vaughan, adds that Naval operatives have destroyed 278 Illegal refinery sites in addition to arresting a total of 85 suspects and impounding 72 boats. It said it also impounded 23 vehicles and tankers, destroyed 127 illegal refinery ovens, 102 illegal refinery large pits, 148 illegal refinery storage tanks, recovered 41 outboard engine and 35 pumping machines.

Director of Naval Information, Commodore AO Ayo-Vaughan, who disclosed these yesterday, noted that the Navy recovered 23.11million (110,102.59litres) of AGO, 39.66million liters’ of crude oil (230,882 barrels), 649. 775. 38 litres’ of DPK, 345,000.49 litres’ of PMS, 380,000 litres’ of Sludge and 66, 000 litres’ of LPFO.

According to Commodore Ayo-Vaughan, the Nigerian Navy launched ‘Operation Dakatar Da Barawo’, OPDDB, in collaboration with the NNPC. Translated to mean, ‘Stop the Thief’ in Hausa, the outfit, which came into existence in April 1, 2022, is designed to help curb COT and associated crimes.

“The ongoing OPDDB has seen the mobilization of the entire Nigerian Navy Operations Bases and Forward Operating Bases, Ships, helicopters, personnel including the maritime surveillance infrastructure of the Navy in collaboration with sister Services and other security agencies in the Niger Delta with the generous logistical support of NNPC.

“The entire region has indeed felt the impact of OPDDB because most oil thieves have been put out of business, the carbon soot that was predominant in some places due to the operation of Illegal refineries has disappeared and innocent citizens have been saved from the health dangers/hazards the fumes/soot posed to them.

“Navy personnel in the Niger Delta creeks have repeatedly raided these IRS to ensure they remain inactive, unproductive, and moribund.

“At the strategic level there are regular and fruitful exchanges, engagements and meetings between the leadership of the navy and that of NNPC to continually reappraise, update and situate the operation so as to fashion out new strategies to curb the menace.

“The primary thrust and major effort of the navy is the ongoing fight against COT and a lot of resources, equipment and logistics are being factored into the operation to sustain the effort.

Oil theft experts say an average of 108,000 barrels of crude oil, equivalent to 5 tonnes of crude oil is stolen by oil thieves on a daily basis through the Niger Delta creeks to the high sea for sale to ships. According to the Navy, 660 barges would be required to convey the quantity to sea.

“In a month therefore, about 660 barges will be required to convey the acclaimed quantity of stolen crude to sea, operations that are impossible without the active connivance of those assigned to proven same.

“This is impossible because such a mass movement of barges is impossible giving the operation and daily patrols of the Nigerian Navy.

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