18 Dec Nigeria: Collusion Between Military Personnel and Oil Barons Unveiled in Oil Theft Scandal
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
In a startling revelation, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, brought attention to a critical issue – the discovery of over 4,800 illegal connections on national crude oil pipelines. This revelation, made amidst enhanced surveillance efforts by security agencies including the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and a private security contractor, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL), unveils a pervasive problem.
Kyari emphasized the enormity of the challenge, stating, “You have over 4,800 illegal connections on our pipelines. That means within every kilometer, you have an insertion. Even if you seal all the insertions, you cannot get what you want in terms of production.” He further highlighted the environmental and community damage resulting from illegal refining activities in the Niger Delta.
However, insiders familiar with operations were not surprised, revealing a disturbing collaboration between high-profile oil bunkers and unscrupulous security officials. This collusion, particularly in a notorious location between Delta and Ondo States, has hindered efforts to curb oil theft and protect national resources.
TSSNL, led by ex-militant leader High Chief (Dr.) Government Ekpemupolo, known as Tompolo, faces challenges breaking the vice-like grip of oil bunkers in the Niger Delta. The situation suggests that these illicit activities enjoy protection from security accomplices.
In a recent incident involving the thieving vessel MT VINNALARIS 1 caught in the act, a conflicting narrative emerged. The Nigerian Navy claimed to have arrested 17 crew members engaged in illegal siphoning of crude oil. However, TSSNL countered, alleging that the Navy’s account was false and mischievous.
Videos depicting the encounter shed light on the situation, revealing a tense standoff between Navy personnel and the TSSNL team. The Navy declared the area a “restricted zone,” demanding TSSNL’s departure. The maritime confrontation raises questions about the conflicting interests and the role of security forces in safeguarding national resources.
Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Executive Director of Technical Operations at TSSNL, shared insights into the incident. He detailed the extensive history of the thieving vessel, which began stealing oil from Nigeria in 2018. The vessel’s strategic changes, including flag alterations from Sierra Leonean to Togolese and eventually to Nigerian, indicate a well-connected network.
Enisuoh raised concerns about the collaboration between security agencies and oil thieves, questioning the effectiveness of sophisticated detection systems in place. He emphasized the need for a thorough investigation, urging against sweeping the matter under the carpet.
Controversies also surround TSSNL’s power to arrest vessels, with Enisuoh asserting that every Nigerian citizen has the power of arrest when witnessing wrongdoing that may harm the country. The incident highlights the complexity of addressing oil theft and the challenges faced by those working to combat this illicit trade.
As the nation grapples with these revelations, it becomes imperative to delve deeper into the dynamics of security collaboration, the efficacy of existing systems, and the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to safeguard Nigeria’s valuable oil resources.