The Ijaw Youths Network (IYN) has raised an alarm that there is an ongoing battle by some desperate oil thieves to sabotage ongoing war against them spearheaded by Tantita Security Services Limited, calling on the Federal Government and all Nigerians to give the requisite support to the ongoing campaign against oil theft in the country.
The pan-Ijaw group gave the admonition in a statement by its National Coordinator, Frank Ebikabo and Secretary, Federal Ebiaridor,.on Sunday.
The IYN expressed deep worry over the arrest of operatives of Tantita Security Services Limited by the Navy in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, for alleged oil theft a few days ago.
The group said that it should be of concern to the government and the citizens of Nigeria and all those who mean well for the country that suspects of oil theft were shielded from arrest while those carrying out their legitimate duty of arresting them were picked up as alleged by Tantita with video evidence.
It noted that the Federal Government and the NNPC which took the commendable step to engage the private security outfits to fight the unprecedented theft of the nation’s crude resources in August 2022, should be firm against the surreptitious move to discredit the ongoing efforts.
The group said that it is indeed alarming, though expected, that those behind the criminal theft of the nation’s resources are deploying their massive intelligence, weight and resources to stifle the fight against oil theft.
It described the conflict in the statement made by the Nigerian Navy on the arrest of the rogue vessel MT Praisel and the arrest of five Tantita operatives for purported oil theft and the rush to the media to discredit the firm as confusing, unhealthy and suspicious.
It urged Nigerians not to forget in a hurry the terrifying facts about the daily theft of 200,000 barrels of crude oil by the rampaging oil thieves amounting to the loss over 120 million barrels of crude oil from January and September 2022 translating to $12.6 billion in less than a year.
The group recalled the frank statement credited to the Group Managing Director of the NNPC that the engagement of the private security firms to secure the nation’s pipelines had achieved tremendous result with the increase in the daily oil production from 900 barrels per day to between 1.4 and 1.5 million barrels.
It cautioned against public display of rancour between those entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating concerted action against the syndicates of oil thieves, describing the current situation as curious.
The group which called for the immediate release of the operatives of TSL in custody of the Navy, further said that what the nation needed at this critical phase was total onslaught against oil theft and not a show of division among the organisations fight the scourge.
The statement read, “We have watched with dismay the conflicting reports of arrests of oil thieves between the Nigerian Navy and Tantita Security Services Limited.
“We are indeed disturbed because these two critical stakeholders are supposed to put concerted efforts in the search for, and arrest of those perpetrating the criminal theft of the nation’s oil resources and the unconscionable sabotage of the nation’s economy.
“Recurrent indicators of seeming infighting among those entrusted with the responsibility of curtailing the massive theft of the nation’s oil resources seems to give the ominous sign that oil theft and its backers are fighting back.
“In the past one month, we have observed two incidents of conflicting reports on operational conflict between Tantita and the Navy on the arrest of rogue vessel MT Praisel at the Escravos, Delta State and the recent arrest of Tantita operatives at Lekki, Lagos.
“In these two incidents, while Tantita which arrested the MT Praisel said that it was on an illegal operation, the Navy said it was not. Similarly, Tantita has faulted the Navy’s rush to the media to claim that it arrested four operatives of Tantita for oil theft last week.
“We know that the campaign against oil theft is a tough job as the multi- billion naira crime project that has produced billionaires without conscience in various sectors of the Nigerian economy would put up a resistance.
“We therefore call on the President and indeed the NNPCL to be firm in sustaining the tempo of the ongoing campaign against oil theft.
“We also call on the Navy, a critical national institution, to keep a closer watch on the activities of its bases on the Niger Delta to avoid sending out a wrong signal to the society on this sensitive issue of the fight against oil theft.
“Nigerians remember the story behind the decision of the NNPCL to engage Tantita and two other private security firms to aid the efforts of the security agencies to fight the scourge which threatened the nation’s security.
“The Navy should not see Tantita as a competitor but a proactive ally making intensified patriotic efforts to rid Nigeria of a cancerous economic challenge.”