Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited has revealed that the 77meter-long Motor Tanker, MT Vinnalaris that was arrested by the Nigerian Navy on December 7, 2023, has been stealing Nigeria’s crude oil since 2018.
Head of Technical and Operations at Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, gave the fresh revelation, while appearing as a guest on a television programme monitored by our correspondent in Lagos on Monday.
He revealed that the motor tanker had successfully changed its name four times in five years and had operated under the Sierra Leonean flag in 2018, before switching to the Nigerian flag in May 2023.
Enisuoh explained that Tantita had got intelligence of the motor tanker since 10th of November that the ship was departing Ghana for Nigeria with the intention to steal oil.
He said: “The ship started stealing oil from Nigeria in 2018. We weren’t present at that time. It departed Ghana with the intention to come and steal crude oil in Nigeria. This was around 10th of November this year. We knew about it. We knew the ship was well-connected. And we followed the ship till it switched off its electronic signature, about three weeks ago.
“We had to create an umbrella over the Niger Delta region, and we kept monitoring. And let me tell you the history of the ship. First, the Sierra Leonean flag vessel was stealing from Nigeria. Nobody could catch it. We were not here at the time. Second, it came closer to Nigeria, possibly scared of the previous administration’s stand against this oil theft. It kept its flag as to believe.
“But see something very ironic, in May this year, it changed its flag to Nigeria, how ironic. It must be connected to somebody who thinks he has won and can steal now. When we caught this particular ship, we followed it for over a month till we got intelligence that yes, it is illegal.”
Enisuoh explained that Tantita reports to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), He added that the security outfit has the names of persons involved in the arrested 77meter Motor Tanker Vinnalaris, which it is awaiting instructions on before publishing.
Giving more details, he added that: “We left in the morning to make sure that we secure the ship. We got there, but on our way there, we got further intelligence that it has got four AK-47 with banks of ammunition on board. They are becoming smarter”.
Enisuoh stated that the oil which was tapped from an oil well suspected to be from Consolidated Oil, was facilitated by a Nigerian male whose phone number is known by Tantita and who is currently on the run.
He explained that the ship’s management is registered at Odessa, Ukraine adding that there are layers to the story which Tantita Security is still investigating.
“The fellow is on the run. He is a Nigerian. He lives in Benin. If we reveal him here, he won’t come. He is on the run. We have his phone number and we have everything. He is an expert in connecting these hoses. And this is not the first time in that area. That area is notorious and well known for ships coming to do this. So, he just went straight to the platform, hooks on to the supply couple and load”, he said.