The Deputy Spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chief Philip Agbese, has dismissed the allegations of the Nigerian Navy’s involvement in crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region. He said that the Navy should rather be commended for playing a vital role in securing the nation’s maritime domain and combating illegal activities such as piracy, smuggling, and oil bunkering.
He exonerated the Nigerian Navy of any complicity in crude oil theft as far as the country’s coastal waters are concerned. He said as a patriot he felt obliged to commend the Nigerian Navy on its fight against crude oil theft especially for their sacrifices.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Chief Agbese said that the recent reports of the Navy’s complicity in crude oil theft were baseless, and aimed at tarnishing the image and reputation of the Navy and its personnel. He said that there is no evidence to support the claims, which have now been confirmed to have emanated from non-state actors who are interested in usurping the roles of legitimate government agencies in the oil exploration areas.
He said, “The Nigerian Navy is a professional and patriotic institution that has been performing its constitutional duties with diligence and integrity. The Navy has been at the forefront of the fight against crude oil theft and other maritime crimes in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. The Navy has also been collaborating with other security agencies and stakeholders to ensure the protection of our national assets and interests, which is particularly important at a time when Nigeria needs to capture every last bit of revenue.
“It is therefore unfortunate and unfair that some people are trying to malign the Navy and its officers with false and malicious accusations of being involved in crude oil theft. These allegations are not only baseless but also disrespectful to the sacrifices and contributions of the Navy to the nation’s security and development. The situation is made sadder when we realize that certain non-state actors are peddling these falsehoods as part of their strategy for taking over the roles of the Nigerian Navy and other government agencies.
“We have been able to confirm these allegations to be false and unsubstantiated. We have also interacted with the Chief of Naval Staff, the Flag Officers Commanding the various Naval Commands, and other senior officers of the Navy, and we are satisfied with their explanations and responses. We now expect that the Navy will ride on this vote of confidence to go after the oil thieves as it had always done.
“We, therefore, urge the public to disregard these allegations and support the Navy in its efforts to safeguard our maritime domain and curb illegal activities that some unscrupulous people want to thrive in these places. We also commend the Navy for its professionalism and dedication, and we assure them of our continued support and oversight.”
Chief Agbese also appealed to the media to be responsible and factual in their reportage and to avoid sensationalism and misinformation that could undermine the morale and confidence of the Navy and other security agencies. He said that the House of Representatives will continue to monitor the situation and ensure that the Navy and other security agencies are adequately funded and equipped to perform their duties effectively.