The Federal Government says the swift destruction of an oil bunkering vessel by security operatives is in line with the rules of engagement.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, stated this on Friday after a National Security Council meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Villa in Abuja.
Irabor said the vessel was caught in the act and security agents subsequently set the “instrument of operation” ablaze, noting that no investigation is needed to carry out the action.
He said, “There are various approaches, various solutions to a problem and at any time based on certain factors, certain considerations, available to those that are at the frontline, actions are taken based on the directive which are contained in the rules of engagement.
“So, the burning of the vessel, it is because the thief was caught in the act and the procedure, if you are caught in the act, is that everything you are using to undertake that criminal activity should be destroyed and that was done.
“What investigation do you need that you find somebody who decided to deplore several pumping machines and has several hoses that are deployed to a dug out pit where crude oil is stored over a period?
“It was caught in the act. So, the instrument of operation was what was destroyed. I think it is straightforward. Whether that is the best is a different matter entirely but did they act in line with the rules of engagement? Yes, they did.”
Security agents recently destroyed a vessel used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks after the vessel was reportedly arrested by a newly-contracted private pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services led by a former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo.
The destruction of the vessel generated a controversy as some Nigerians fumed at the action of security agents, saying the vessel should have been preserved as exhibit to prosecute the owners of the vessel.
The House of Representatives subsequently said it would investigate the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the oil bunkering vessel by security agents.
Oil theft has become a malignant cancer in Nigeria for years with unimaginable volumes of oil being lifted by some cabals in the oil sector. Recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited said it uncovered an illegal oil connection from Forcados Terminal that operated for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period.
Similarly, Tompolo said about 58 illegal oil points have been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began.
On Thursday, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State said the Federal Government has failed in the oil and gas business and should get out of the sector.
El-Rufai, who called for the privatisation of the NNPC said the company has been declaring profit without dividends.
The governor said that whatever the government manages turns out bad and noted that the sectors doing well in the country like entertainment, telecoms, fintech and others have no government involvement.