Michael Olugbode in Abuja
Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited has cleared the air over the incident at the Lekki area of Lagos involving its operatives and some Nigerian Navy personnel on August 29.
Tantita said its personnel who were on the trail of the suspected oil thieves were instead arrested and detained for carrying out their lawful duty.
This was revealed in a statement it released yesterday in response to the arrest of its personnel.
Tanita is a maritime security firm founded by former Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Chief Government Tompolo.
The Nigerian Navy had claimed that the Tantita patrol team was arrested following the realisation that the “four individuals are part of a movement of a large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000L Geepee tanks with product suspected to be stolen crude oil.”
Faulting the claims of the Nigerian Navy yesterday, Tanita said the continued detention by the Nigerian Navy of these five brave, selfless Nigerians who risked their lives on the high seas to protect our commonwealth “is a disservice to our nation.”
It explained that its eight-man patrol team operating in Ondo State received credible intelligence on Monday that a motorised wooden boat was illegally loading crude oil from an offshore oil well jacket operated by Cavendish Nigeria Limited, where the MT TURA II was caught stealing crude oil a few months ago.
It said an advance team was dispatched to find the wooden boat while a back-up team of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps was assembled to follow through on the lead.
Tanita backed its claims with a video of the incident, saying the advance team with the help of local fishermen was able to determine that the motorised wooden boat was heading in the direction of Lagos and gave hot pursuit.
It stated, “Upon noticing the approaching Tantita teams, the crew of the motorised wooden boat abandoned the wooden boat for their speed boat.
“One team of Tantita and NSCDC personnel boarded the wooden boat to secure the evidence while another team gave hot pursuit.
“There is video evidence of the Tantita team together with NSCDC personnel. There is also evidence of the Tantita and GSA team giving chase to the crew of the boat.”