Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited has refuted a statement by the Nigerian Navy claiming four of the security firm’s personnel were involved in crude oil theft, calling the allegations a “smear campaign” and “possibly a cover-up”.
It alleged that the Navy arrested four of its personnel chasing the suspects on the high seas towards a naval base.
This was contained in a statement issued by the management and made available to journalists in Warri, Delta State on Saturday on the heels of the purported arrest of four surveillance personnel of the firm by the Navy earlier in the week.
The Nigerian Navy had on August 31, 2023, in a press release credited to the Commander, NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Kolawole Olumide Oguntuga, stated that the Navy arrested four Tantita personnel for alleged crude oil theft.
But the Tantita management, while declaring the Nigerian Navy’s statement as “a tragicomedy of errors” insisted that it was nothing but a smear campaign.
The statement partly reads, “The Nigerian Navy is quite good at publicising videos of their personnel boarding vessels suspected of conveying illicit crude and refined products. Where is the Navy’s video of boarding this wooden boat and arresting the Tantita personnel?
“How do you arrest oil thieves you claimed were using a wooden boat to steal crude oil, on land? If indeed Tantita personnel were stealing crude with a boat, why did they need to abandon their wooden boat laden with crude oil, tens of nautical miles away from the crime scene to recover a dismantled outboard engine when the wooden boat had working engines? There are too many gaps in the Navy press release.
“In one breathe the Nigerian Navy is saying Tantita employees were caught trying to steal an outboard engine and in another breathe they are saying the Tantita operatives were arrested for trying to forcibly employ the owner of the boat to do their bidding. Quite interesting”.
Drawing links to a prior operation involving both parties, the security outfit also raised questions about the Navy’s statement, including timelines, jurisdiction, and neutrality of the military branch.
Tantita claimed to have already gotten the outcome of the Navy’s investigation on the incident saying “there are even more damning revelations, which out of courtesy to the Navy hierarchy and the needs of national security we will not divulge on the pages of a newspaper”.