The federal government has suspended the contract awarded Topline Security, a private firm, for the protection of petroleum pipelines from Atlas Cove to Mosimi Depot, THISDAY has gathered.
The suspension was confirmed by the former Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Sylvanus Abbah, when interfacing with defence journalists shortly after handing over to his successor, Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak. The contract was suspended following some alleged breach by the company, who had reportedly sublet the contract to another private security firm.
The security firm was said to have allegedly hired foreigners to guard the pipeline, a move which was deemed inimical to national security.
Meanwhile, the sub-letting of the contract to the security firm, had almost ensued in a bloodbath with the navy last June, after the former refused the latter, who is constitutionally backed, access to the pipeline.
The guards had threatened to set the area ablaze after naval operatives had attempted to evacuate thousands of kegs laden with petrol, which was recovered from pipeline vandals.
It was gathered that an inquiry was constituted as a result of the confrontation and the government discovered that the guards bore arms illegally and about 80 per cent of the guards were foreigners.
Following that revelation, it was gathered that the National Security Adviser (NSA) at a meeting with all the parties on July 16, suspended the contract and directed that the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) take over the supervision in collaboration with the NN.
Abbah said: “The dislodging of the company, Kings Guard, contracted by Topline Security and characterised by hoodlums from Atlas Cove was one of the achievements recorded.
“Over 80 per cent of their staff were foreigners and you were witnessed to what transpired at Ilashe in June. So, when the information got to the highest level of government, the contract was suspended and the navy, NSCDC were mandated to protect those infrastructure. Since then, NNPC will tell you they have not recorded any colossal loss.”
Abbah also disclosed that the command arrested 26 vessels and many suspects during his tenure as FOC which commenced July 4, 2017.
He also noted that the successful reception of a multi-billion dollar oil rig, Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FSPO), despite threats from militants, was one of his successes, adding that the vessel stayed in Lagos area for seven months before departing for the Niger Delta on August 26.
After taking over, Ngalabak said he would leverage on the successes of his predecessor, adding that the navy would continue to chase criminals off the maritime domain.