CSO Accuse Oil thieves of sponsoring media campaign against Naval Chief

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A rights group, Civil Society for Peace, Security and Development (CSPSD), has alleged that some crude oil thieves were behind the media attacks and campaign of calumny recently launched against the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, with an intent to end his dedication and commitment to addressing oil bunkering in the Niger Delta.

The CSO at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, described the allegations being peddled against the Chief of Naval Staff as baseless and unfounded with an intent to blackmail and tarnish his image, noted that the end game was to see to his sack so they (oil thieves), could continue their illicit business unhindered.

Convener of the group, Obadiah Solomon Ovye, who spoke to journalists explained that the allegations that Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla collected bribes amounting to the tune of $170 million to facilitate crude oil theft in connivance with foreign nationals was a poorly orchestrated hatchet job sponsored by oil thieves he had put away from buisness.

While passing a vote of confidence on Ogalla for being a true and unfazed patriot who has restored sanity to the nation’s maritime domain, the group drummed their support and promised to continue mobilisation of Nigerians to ensure he succeeds in the mandate given to him by President Tinubu to end oil theft in the country.

He said: “While it’s almost a waste of resources and man-hours to join issues with merchants of falsehood and deceit, we are constrained by our mandate of fostering peace, security and development in the society to set the records straight.

“Credible intelligence at our disposal has it that a cartel of notorious crude oil thieves whose illicit business has been grounded by the tight security and tactical effectiveness of the Nigerian Navy in the onslaught against oil bunkering in the Niger Delta has enlisted the services of some unpatriotic elements to launch a smear campaign against Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla.

“The game plan involves sponsoring vicious media attacks against the Chief of Naval Staff with the hope of pressuring President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sack him as he has been known to be a courageous and dedicated anti-corruption icon. The sheer callouses of this scheme is appalling but their bag of lies has burst open and Nigerians have already known it is just a matter of corruption fighting back.”

The group maintained that before Ogalla’s emergence as Chief of Naval Staff, the country was suffering huge losses amounting to billions of dollars from crude oil theft and other unwholesome activities along the maritime borders.

“The task of Mr. President to the current Chief of Naval Staff was simple, to put a permanent end to bunkering, illegal refining of petroleum products and other crimes. This, the Naval boss has done exceedingly well. While Mr. President and many Nigerians are happy that there’s at last a breath of fresh air and Nigeria can now meet it’s OPEC quota and earn enough revenue to derive Mr President’s economic recovery plan, some disgruntled elements are outraged that their brisk and once flourishing illegal business has been shut down by the powerful Nigerian Navy under the daring leadership of Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla.

“Their gang up and media wars have only gone to show that nobody attacks a player unless he’s in possession of the ball and threatening to score. The fact that nobody attacked the formal Naval Chiefs when crude oil theft and bunkering was so rampant shows that they didn’t dare to disrupt the status quo. We therefore, reject this shenanigan in totality and insist that the clamour by a few criminals must not overshadow the gallant and courageous sacrifices of a patriot whose only crime is obeying his Commander in-Chief and restoring dignity to the Nigerian people and their economy. Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla is innocent and deserves commendations not condemnations.

“The launch of Operation Delta Sanity by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla upon assumption of duty to cleanse the mess in the Niger Delta region has been hailed as the most proactive, professional and dynamic military operation in the Niger Delta region.

“The dedication, discipline and patriotism of officers and men of the Nigerian Navy in all Command centres in the region has been outstanding and fruitful. The strategy to partner with host communities to foster intelligence gathering and sharing has played a key role in sabotaging the efforts of oil thieves who previously used host communities as hideouts for their nefarious activities. Realising that the chances are up, these miscreants have teamed up to discredit and blackmail the Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla. It is impossible that evil will triumph against good. Mr. President cannot afford to loose a good man simply because he has done his job very well by trashing out criminal elements.”

While insisting that Nigeria’s inability to meet up with OPEC’s quota has nothing to do with oil theft as insinuated, the group noted there has been great improvement in the production output of Nigeria’s crude oil, adding that crude oil production is largely dependent on creating the enabling environment.

“The abandonment of OML 11 and OML 30 has had a devastating effect on our crude output and instead of looking for scapegoats, oil thieves and their sponsors should explain to Nigerians why there has not been crude oil production in Ogoni Land for the past 25 years. The onus lies on International Oil Companies (IOCs) and Local Oil Companies (LOCs) to create an enabling environment in conjunction with the federal government to meet Nigeria’s OPEC production quota. To those who can no longer bear the heat of the Nigerian Navy’s renewed vigour to fight crude oil theft and illegalities in the maritime domain and are busy trying to distract Nigerians, we offer our unsolicited but patriotic advice, quit the blackmail and find something legal or the wrath of the law will catch up with them.

“The vessels under contention and believed to have been used in the alleged corruption case against the Chief of Naval Staff are actually still impounded and under investigation even as we speak now. The case of MT PRAISEL, MT KALI, MT TURA, MT VANNALARIS cited by the antagonists has only gone to expose the ignorance of those behind this malicious media attacks.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Nigerian Navy has clear procedural requirements in the arrest, detention and release of any vessel or persons found culpable of any crime in the maritime environment. It is until these processes are duly concluded that such vessels are released to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further actions. This is what the Nigerian Navy is doing but the owners of such vessels feel misinforming the public about true state of affairs and blackmailing the Naval boss will save them prosecution. This is malicious and a calculated attempt to tarnish the good image and reputation of the Chief of Naval Staff as well as the entire Nigerian Navy.

“Another baseless allegation that the Naval Chief is involved in procurement fraud and contract splitting, in violation of the Procurement Act is another recycled lie that has been used time without number by desperate blackmailers and their sponsors in a bid to hunt people down.

“The Nigerian Navy has a reputation of due diligence and there’s no way the Chief of Naval Staff will award or oversee oil bunkering contracts. Even an imbecile will know that the award of such contracts is the sole prerogative of NNPCL. The Nigerian Navy has a vibrant procurement department and all contracts awarded by the Navy follow due process in line with the Procurement Act, 2007. Those desperate to hoodwink the Naval Chief should at least take some time and do their findings.

“It is painful that while discharging its constitutional duty, that Nigerian Navy is coming under attacks and some media houses are complicit in this attack. The Navy is empowered to monitor Nigeria’s maritime assets and it is doing so with distinction. Those who are threatened by the giant strides of the Nigerian Navy should not be allowed to use your platforms to spread lies and hate. As a civil society organisation, we applaud the Nigerian Navy under Emmanuel Ogalla for blocking the conduits from where our commonwealth was siphoned by a few.

“The increase in revenue has already started making visible impacts with increased Federal allocations and many legacy projects. We therefore urge Nigerians, to disregard the antics of saboteurs and their sponsors who are fighting to have a change of leadership at the Navy to someone they can manipulate.

“We are also not unaware of harboured discontent against the Chief of Naval Staff by those who felt he is not from their part of the country right from when he was appointed. Allowing these elements to win will be a defeat to our collective purpose and unity as a nation. Mr President has shown that he has a tact for assembling talents regardless of tribal and religious differences. His appointments were hailed as cutting across geopolitical zones and interests. For the first time in 10 years, an Igbo man got appointed as the Chief of Naval Staff. We should be happy that the Chief of Naval Staff is doing Nigerians proud and not concoct lies to oust him out of office.
We, therefore, pass a well-deserved vote of confidence on the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, a true and unfazed patriot who has restored sanity to our maritime domain.”