The Nigerian Navy has categorically dismissed the allegations made by former Niger Delta militant leader, Asari Dokubo, regarding the involvement of military cabals in oil theft in the region. Dokubo made these claims during a visit to President Bola Tinubu in Abuja.
In response, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the Director of Naval Information, challenged Dokubo to provide evidence and names of those behind the alleged criminal activities.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja, Commodore Ayo-Vaughan strongly asserted that the Nigerian military, particularly the navy, has been at the forefront of combatting crude oil theft in the country at all levels.
He highlighted that not only is crude oil stolen from pipelines and refined in the creeks for the local market, but it is also being stolen by criminals offshore at sea.
Commodore Ayo-Vaughan emphasized the navy’s commitment to combating this criminal activity and stated that the force has been employing various strategies to deter and apprehend oil thieves.
While acknowledging that there have been isolated cases of some military personnel involved in oil theft, Commodore Ayo-Vaughan stressed that such individuals are outliers and not representative of the entire Nigerian military.
He reiterated the navy’s commitment to rooting out any corrupt elements within its ranks and ensuring that those found guilty face appropriate disciplinary measures.
“You remember the case of MT HEROIC IDUN that was made to pay fines to the Nigerian government after they were arrested and brought back from Guinea Bissau, Malabo Island and made to face court orders.
“It demonstrated the will of the Navy to go as far as even beyond our waters to arrest a ship that attempted to load without a license, without due approval in April last year.
“I was there physically on board one of our ships at FOT in Onne when the navy launched Operation Dakatarda Barawo, which means stop the thief in Hausa language.
“Stop the thief that is stealing the nation’s natural resources, the hydrocarbons.
“Nigerian Navy has been fighting crude oil theft, taking the fight to the creeks and as I speak to you, our men are battling in the creeks.
“So, what I will just say is, Asari Dokubo is seeking some form of relevance and whatever.
“He alleges that there is a cabal of military people that are involved in crude oil theft, let him bring the names.
“Nobody is afraid of getting the names of those involved in crude oil theft.
“You cannot make such spurious allegations and think that we will just sweep it down the carpet,” he said.