The Nigerian Military has responded to allegations of oil theft brought against it by Asari Dokubo, challenging the ex-Niger Delta agitator to name such military men stealing oil in the Niger Delta.
Dokubo made the claims when he visited President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Abuja on Friday, June 16, 2023.
Hours after the accusation, the Director of Naval Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, challenged Dokubo to name those involved in such an act.
He claimed that the Niger Delta leader is only trying to court the favour of President Tinubu with such allegations.
“If Asari Dokubo is seeking some form of relevance and alleges that there is a cabal of military people that are involved in crude oil theft, let him bring the names. Nobody is afraid of getting the names of those involved in crude oil theft,” he said.
According to him, the Nigerian Navy has through its Operation Dakata da Barawo recorded tremendous successes in the fight against oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
He cited the recent arrest of a ship, Heroic Edun, that entered Nigeria illegally and the court fines imposed on the owners of the ship as evidence of the Nigerian Navy’s desire to combat crude oil theft.
The spokesman further listed other achievements of the Nigerian Navy – recorded between April 1, 2022, and June 12, 2023 – to include the arrest of 131 suspects, 17 vessels, destruction of 519 illegal mining sites, deactivation of 4,261 storage tanks with 569 wooden boats and demobilisation of 69 vehicles.
He noted that through the efforts of the Navy, oil thieves were denied over 116.9 million litres of crude oil, 45.1 million litres of refined diesel, and 2.4 million litres of kerosene as well as over 372,000 litres of premium motor spirit, all worth more than N71.8 billion based on the current prices.
“The Nigerian Navy is actively involved in the fight against crude oil theft and the resources in the Niger Delta. So, for anybody to say that there is a cabal of military officers, the only simple thing is to bring the evidence, bring the names. I rest my case,” Ayo-Vaughan maintained.
Also reacting, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, denied the allegations. Nwachukwu in an interview with The Sun.
He said “The Nigerian Army has been vigorously engaged in the fight against illegal oil bunkering, oil theft and illegal oil refining in the Niger Delta and this has yielded positive results as evident in the increase in daily oil production per barrel from an abysmally dwindling output.
“The Nigerian Army has zero tolerance for any compromise on the part of our troops and no black sheep will be spared if identified.”