The Nigerian Navy (NN) said criminals, desperate individuals and organisations behind crude oil theft in the country were sponsoring malicious media campaign against it for their selfish interest.
The Director of Naval Information, Rear Adm. Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
Ayo-Vaughan said the desperate individuals and organisations were sponsoring unsubstantiated reports in some mainstream media and online news platforms against efforts of the navy towards eradicating crude oil theft and other forms of illegalities in the nation’s maritime domain.
According to him, it has been observed that their modus operandi includes sourcing the services of third-party agents/sectional egoists to discredit the reinvigorated stance of the NN in the fight against crude oil theft.
“Ordinarily, the NN would not have responded to such baseless assertions, but it has become necessary in order to prevent gullible members of the public from being misinformed by the erroneous publications.
“Suffice to state that the NN in the discharge of her statutory responsibilities as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will continue to work tirelessly for the betterment of the nation’s maritime security.
“It is on record that the NN has always worked harmoniously with all maritime stakeholders nationally, regionally and internationally.
“The coming onboard of Private Maritime stakeholders for the protection of critical onshore economic assets in the sole interest of the nation’s economy is a known development provided professionalism and Standard Operating Procedures are upheld strictly.
“Hence, it is complete fallacy to allege to the contrary via sponsored ill-conceived and uncorroborated publications,” he said.
The spokesman said the NN as the lead agency in the security of Nigeria’s maritime environment had been in the forefront of galvanising legitimate maritime stakeholders for the collective fight against crude oil theft and securing national assets.
He said the role of the service was obvious with the various past and ongoing operations and exercises designed to curb maritime criminalities and particularly oil theft.
Some of the operations, according to him, are: Operation Dakar Ta Dabarwo, Operation Calm Waters, Operation Nchekwe Oshimili and Exercise Sea Guardian, among others.
Ayo-Vaughan said NN’s operations against oil theft in 2023 effected the arrest of 23 ships, over 233 suspects, 690 wooden boats with stolen crude oil and products, while over 703 illegal refining sites were destroyed.
He added that tens of barges, 82 vehicles and tanker trucks were arrested and crude oil and petroleum products amounting to over N105 billion were confiscated and denied oil thieves.
According to him, appropriate prosecuting agencies are in custody of all arrested suspects and the fight against crude oil theft is ongoing with renewed vigour in year 2024.
“It is not surprising, therefore, that these ignorant publications aimed at distracting the Navy are obviously sponsored by the soon-to-be-arrested criminals involved in oil theft who are feeling the impact of the Nigerian Navy’s renewed fight towards eradicating the menace of oil theft.
“The Navy’s effort has been visible leading to increase in oil production in the last six months as rightly reported by relevant authorities and the media.
“The Navy under the able and focused leadership of Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, will not be deterred by the malicious and misguided propaganda in the media.
“The sponsored campaigns of calumny will not deter the NN from carrying out her constitutional roles in the interest of national economy.
“Accordingly, members of the public are enjoined to jettison the highly unpatriotic publications,” he said.