By ZAKAA LAZARUS -Abuja.
The Nigerian Navy (NN), has denied the involvement of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla in any multi-billion naira fraud.
The Naval spokesman, Rear Adm. Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, who disclosed this in a statement on Saturday, said the allegation is a coordinated effort by disgruntled elements feeling the heat of the navy’s renewed vigour to fight crude oil theft and illegalities in the maritime domain.
Ayo-Vaughan said the malicious publication would not deter the navy from continuing the battle to curb oil theft and give oil thieves sleepless nights.
He said only the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), not the navy, has the prerogative of awarding or overseeing oil bunkering contracts.
Ayo-Vaughan described as unfounded, baseless and malicious, the article published by an online medium alleging that the Naval Chief, was in trouble over multibillion naira oil bunkering and contract-splitting fraud.
He added that the allegations that the CNS accepted over 170 million Dollar bribe and was involved in multi-billion naira contract splitting fraud in the last six months were untenable, baseless and untrue.
According to him, there are clear procedural requirements in the arrest, detention and release of any vessel or persons found culpable in the maritime environment.
“It is until these processes are duly concluded that such vessels are released to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further actions.
“Indeed, all arrested vessels mentioned in the publication that were involved in crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering are being investigated and none of such vessels has been released as alleged.
“Secondly, the CNS does not award or oversee oil bunkering contracts; the award of such is the sole prerogative of NNPCL.
“Thirdly, all contracts awarded by the navy follow due process in line with the laws of the Federation,” he added.
Ayo-Vaughan said the Nigerian navy would remain guided by extant laws and regulations, and discharge its role of monitoring Nigerian maritime domain and arrest of any vessel that contravene the law.
He said that the launch of OPERATION DELTA SANITY has scared oil theft cartels which hitherto believed no individual could confront its ranks.
“Fortunately, the recent achievements of the NN in this regard have put them on their heels hence the resort to cheap blackmail through immoral and compromised online media publishers,” he added.
Ayo-Vaughan assured that the navy would continue to ensure that legitimate businesses in the maritime domain thrive seamlessly.
He added that the malicious publication would in no way deter the Nigerian navy in its resolve to confront criminals sabotaging the nation’s economy.
He said that the security and economy of the nation was greater than any group of persons that think they must continue to drain the country.
“Accordingly, members of the public are therefore enjoined to discountenance completely the malicious publication.
“It is totally untrue and completely baseless, being a figment of the shallow imagination of the writer, his publishers, and their unpatriotic sponsors,” he said.