The Nigerian Navy, weekend, said it has recovered N25 billion worth of stolen products through the ongoing Operation DAKATAR DA BARARWO (OPDDB) meaning, ‘Stop the Thief’ in Hausa, in nearly four months.
Launched on April 1, 2022, the ongoing operation, which is in synergy with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was instituted to curb Crude Oil Theft (COT) and associated crimes.
According to the Director of Information (DINFO), Commodore AO Ayo-Vaughan, in the last four months, “The entire naval assets and personnel in the Niger Delta have continually and vigorously fought the menace of COT as directed by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo.”
The DINFO, who reacted to a THISDAY story, which alleged that the Navy was unwilling to halt the menace of oil theft, said: “The navy has also reported regularly and given updates on its efforts in the media with over 10 press releases stating the tireless efforts of the Navy to deny oil thieves well over Twenty Five Billion naira (N25,000,000) worth of stolen crude oil and product.”
Giving a breakdown of the four-month recovery, Commodore Ayo-Vaughan said, the navy recovered 23,110,102.59litres of AGO; 39,664,420.16 litres/230,882.73 barrels of crude oil; 649,775.38 litres of DPK; 345,000.49 litres OF PMS, 380,000 litres of sludge; and 66,000 litres of LPFO.
He added that within the same review period, they destroyed 278 Illegal Refinery Sites (IRS) and arrested 85 suspects with 72 boats impounded and 23 vehicles and tanker-trucks.
The operatives were said to have destroyed 127 illegal refinery ovens, 102 illegal refinery large pits, 148 illegal refinery storage tanks while they recovered 41 outboard engines, 35 pumping machines.
Specifically, on the THISDAY report, he said, “The Nigerian Navy’s attention has been drawn to a front-page report of This Day newspaper of Thursday 28 July 2022, alleging the unwillingness or inability of the navy to halt oil theft menace as attacks in the Gulf have reduced.
“The report identified massive crude oil theft as one of the reasons for which the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited is unable to meet its oil quota. Furthermore, it was alleged that the top hierarchy of the Navy fighting the menace in the Niger Delta have been fingered by locals and several top Nigerians of complicity in the growing oil theft.
“Mention was also made to the immediate past Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (Rtd), who was reported to have admitted and lamented the involvement of naval personnel in the illicit oil bunkering and theft in the country, warning them (navy personnel) to desist.
“First, it is most surprising that the writers of the report are unaware of the several operational efforts of the Nigerian Navy to curb Crude Oil Theft (COT) and illegal refineries since the menace surfaced in the Niger Delta decades ago.
“For a report on such topical issue to refer to a former CNS to buttress a point is an indication that the writers are totally oblivious of the current leadership of the Nigerian Navy. For the avoidance of doubt, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (Rtd) handed over on January 29, 2021.
“In the past 18 months, the navy under the able leadership of the incumbent CNS, has left no stone unturned in her renewed fight against illegalities in the maritime domain particularly COT, illegal bunkering, Illegal Refining Sites (IRS) and associated crimes.
“The ongoing OPDDB has seen the mobilisation of the entire Nigerian Navy Operations Bases and Forward Operating Bases, Ships, helicopters, personnel including the maritime surveillance infrastructure of the navy in collaboration with sister services and other security agencies in the Niger Delta with the generous logistical support of NNPC.
“The entire region has indeed felt the impact of OPDDB, because most oil thieves have been put out of business, the carbon soot that was predominant in some places due to the operation of Illegal refineries has disappeared and innocent citizens have been saved from the health dangers/hazards the fumes/soot posed to them.
“Navy personnel in the Niger Delta creeks have repeated raided these IRS to ensure they remain inactive, unproductive, and moribund. At the strategic level there are regular and fruitful exchanges, engagements and meetings between the leadership of the navy and that of NNPC to continually reappraise, update and situate the operation so as to fashion out new strategies to curb the menace.”
The Commodore further revealed that in a month, about 660 barges would be required to convey the acclaimed quantity of stolen crude to sea, adding that, “This is totally a false assertion, because such a mass movement of barges is impossible giving the operation and daily patrols of the Nigerian Navy.
“Finally, the Nigerian Navy has not reneged to appeal to political, traditional and opinion leaders in the region to educate the people to note the environmental, economic and health hazards the crime of COT and IRS pose to the operators, people and entire region, hence the need to dissuade the oil thieves from the crime.”