The Nigerian Navy has responded to an allegation of a vessel carrying stolen crude oil, which the Tantita Security Services supposedly intercepted in the Koko area of Delta State on Wednesday.
Government Ekpemupolo, popu;arly known as Tompolo, is the owner of the private security firm Tantita Security Outfit. Tompolo is a former Niger Delta agitator who recently signed a contract with the Federal Government to guard oil pipelines.
The 1,117-ton vessel purportedly intercepted was carrying about 8,100 barrels of crude, the security outfit said.
The vessel, tagged, MT Praisel was flying a Togolese flag, according to men with Tantita Security, and was being accompanied by a Navy boat commanded by a senior naval captain.
However, the Navy, in a statement released on Friday by its Director of Information, Commodore AO Ayo-Vaughan, opposed the notion that the vessel was acting without authorization.
“To put the record straight and avoid the misrepresentation of facts to unsuspecting members of the public as portrayed, MT Praisel was duly approved by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to load 1,114,721 liters of high-pour fuel oil (HPFO) from Greenmac Energy Storage/Tarus Jetty Koko from July 26–8, 2023,” the statement read.
“This has been substantiated by NMDPRA. In line with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and to ensure strict compliance with the NMDPRA approval, NN personnel were deployed onboard to monitor the discharge of the product by MT PRAISEL at a facility at Bonny.”
According to the Navy, on August 2, 2023, TSSL claimed to act on intelligence and alleged that the vessel was laden with stolen crude oil.
The security outfit was said to have then approached an element of Operation Delta Safe to board the vessel in order to verify the allegedly stolen product.
“Accordingly, the NN directed the vessel to Forward Operating Base ESCRAVOS anchorage for further investigation of the product onboard,” the Navy noted.
“The samples of the product onboard MT PRAISEL were collected on Thursday, August 3, 2023, by five agencies, including NNPCL, NMDPRA, and TSSL, in line with laid procedures for laboratory testing and verification of the claim.”