Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Nigerian Navy at the resumed investigative hearing of the House of Representatives adhoc committee on fuel subsidy probe disclosed that it has handed over to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) 70 out of the 147 vessels arrested over illegal oil bunkering and crude oil theft.
Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogala, who is the Director of Lesson Learnt, who made the disclosure while addressing the lawmakers said the Navy did not have the power to prosecute arrested vessels, saying culprits are usually handed over to security agencies and in most cases EFCC.
He also a total of 14 vessels arrested were handed over to the owners who had been acquitted of the cases against them.
“From our record, 70 have so far been handed over to EFCC out of about 147 vessels that were arrested while others were handed over to other agencies. In the records of seizures made in respect of petroleum products arrested over illegal oil bunkering and crude oil theft, a total of 127 vessels were involved in different forms of offences.
“This included those released to the owners within the same period. Now to the record of prosecutions, in respect of arrest made during seizure, Nigerian Navy does not have the statutory responsibilities or power to prosecute arrested vessels. They are usually handed over to security agencies in most cases EFCC,” he said
Speaking further he said the NNPC and the Pipeline and Product Monitoring Company (PPMC) usually sent copies of letters with details of vessels permitted to lift oil products in and out of the country to the Nigerian Navy.
According to him, a total of 10,489 of such letters were sent to the Nigerian Navy in 2020 and 2021 alone.
Reacting, members of the committee expressed displeasure that the Navy relied on the NNPC for such information.
The House Spokesman, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, said, “We leave waterways under your care, therefore independent of what NNPC does, it is your mandate. To say you only rely on what is coming from NNPC does not inspire confidence in Nigerians who allow you to monitor what comes into the country.
“I know the Navy has a record of every tanker coming or going out that has products that have to do with oil and gas.”
Another member, Hon. Mark Gbillah, while commending the Navy for the divulgence of additional information, however said they were taken aback by their response.
Consequently, the lawmakers gave the Navy one week to provide comprehensive details of vessels that imported petrol and exported crude oil from 2017 till date.