Headlines Navy, Tantita in rivalry tussle By maritimemag September 3, 2023 ShareTweet 0 By Abiodun OBA The Nigerian Navy, NN, has claimed it arrested four operatives of Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, TSSNL, operated by ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, near Ikotu community, Lekki, Lagos, for attempted oil theft, a claim described as smear campaign by the latter. Only few weeks ago, it was a brickbat between TSSNL and NN over the interception of an ocean-going vessel, MT PRAISEL, in Delta by Tantita operatives and an element of Operation Delta Safe, OPDS, over suspected oil theft. They later released the vessel after a laboratory test confirmed the assumed product was not crude oil. Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga, had explained: “In a swift response to a distress call, the Nigerian Navy stationed at FOB, Lekki, foiled an attempted oil theft operation on the waterways near Itolu community, Lekki, in Lagos State. “The incident occurred in the early hours of August 29, when local youths reported gunshots in the community’s vicinity. “Reviewing the information, naval patrol teams immediately launched a response operation. “Upon arrival at the scene, the naval team met four individuals dressed in black polo shirts with TANTITA inscribed on the back, trying to recover a dismantled outboard engine from a local. “The team recovered the engine and apprehended the four TANTITA employees. “It was after this arrest that the patrol team realised that the four individuals were part of a movement of a large wooden boat with two fibre boats. “The four arrested individuals beckoned on the two fiber boats to approach them but when they noticed NN patrol teams, the boats altered courses fled, and abandoned the large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000L Geepee tanks with product suspected to be stolen crude oil. “We have identified the arrested individuals as Asonja Goddey (28), Obajimi Oluwaseyifunmi (38), Awoowo Aribo (35), and Oluwadaisi Balogun (40), all hailing from Igbokoda in Ondo State. “The owner of the boat they were trying to forcibly employ, Ishola Ojubuyi (42), is also taken into custody. “The Nigerian Navy has started an investigation to unravel the circumstances of the incident, particularly the possession of firearms used in the community, economic sabotage, how the product came from Ondo State to Lagos State as well as attempting to steal a boat engine from the locals.” However, in a counter claim, Tantita, in a statement, accused the Navy of a “smear campaign” against it. “On Monday, August 28, at about 1:30p.m., a Tantita Security Services patrol team operating in the Ondo State area received credible intelligence that a motorised wooden boat was illegally loading crude oil from an offshore oil well jacket. “In fact, the same well jacket in OML 110 operated by Cavendish Petroleum Nigeria Limited, where we caught MT TURA II stealing crude oil, a few months ago. “They dispatched an advance team to find the wooden boat while a backup team comprising Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps (NSCDC) component of the government security agencies (GSA) was assembled to follow through on the lead. “While we cannot name the NSCDC personnel for obvious reasons, they were six and our personnel were eight not four. The advance team with the help of local fisher folk could determine that the motorised wooden boat was heading toward Lagos and gave hot pursuit. “Upon noticing the approaching Tantita teams, the crew of the motorised wooden boat abandoned the wooden boat for their speed boat. “One team of Tantita and NSCDC personnel boarded the wooden boat to secure the evidence while another team gave hot pursuit. “There is video evidence of the Tantita team together with NSCDC personnel coming alongside the wooden boat, boarding and attempting to secure the boat. “There is also evidence of the Tantita and GSA team giving chase to the crew of the boat. How then did the Nigerian Navy get involved in this operation? “The escaping crew of the motorised wooden boat fled toward the Nigerian Navy Forward Operation Base at Ibeju-Lekki, so the Tantita and NSCDC personnel followed in hot pursuit, believing that the criminals would meet their waterloo there. “They were wrong. Instead of arresting the fleeing crew, they arrested the Tantita personnel and came down to apprehend the fleeing crew. “After arresting Tantita personnel and freeing the crew, the Nigerian Navy personnel then went to the motorised wooden boat and drove out the combined Tantita/GSA team trying to keep the boat and the evidence afloat.” © 2023, maritimemag. All rights reserved.