Some men who work for the Tompolo-led Tantita Security Service have been detained and accused of stealing crude oil by the Nigerian Navy.
According to reports, early this week, residents of the Itolu neighbourhood reported hearing gunshots coming from the waterside, and the Nigerian Navy stationed at FOB Lekki, Forward Operation Base Lekki, responded.
Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga, the commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, said that the guys were apprehended as they were fighting a local whom they had tried to rob of a boat engine.
He said: “In a swift response to a distress call, the Nigerian Navy stationed at FOB Lekki foiled an attempted oil theft operation on the waterways near Itolu community, Lekki, in Lagos State. The incident occurred in the early hours of August 29, 2023, when local youths reported gunshots in the vicinity of the community.
“Reviewing the information, naval patrol teams immediately launched a response operation. Upon arrival at the scene, the naval team met four individuals dressed in black polo shirts with TANTITA inscribed on the back, trying to recover a dismantled outboard engine from a local. The team recovered the engine and apprehended the four Tantita employees.
“It was after this arrest that the patrol team realised that the four individuals were part of a movement of a large wooden boat with two fiber boats. The four arrested individuals beckoned on the two fiber boats to approach them but when they noticed NN patrol teams, the boats altered courses fled away, and abandoned the large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000-litre Geepee tanks with product suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“The arrested individuals have been identified as Asonja Goddey (28), Obajimi Oluwaseyifunmi (38), Awoowo Aribo (35), and Oluwadaisi Balogun (40), all hailing from Igbokoda in Ondo State. The owner of the boat they were trying to forcibly employ, Ishola Ojubuyi (42), is also taken into custody.
“The Nigerian Navy has initiated an investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident, particularly the possession of firearms used in the community, economic sabotage, how the product came from Ondo State to Lagos State as well as attempting to steal a boat engine from the locals.
“Also, one Mr. Owoyele Omotuyi who was identified as a Tantita staff member, came to secure the release of the four apprehended, claiming they were Tantita employees. All suspects, along with the confiscated exhibits, will be handed over to appropriate agencies for further necessary action and prosecution.”
Idowu Asonja, the Ondo State Coordinator for Tantita, justified the jailed employees by claiming that they were merely looking for the genuine offenders—the owners of the wooden boat loaded with crude goods.
He also accused the Navy of complicity in the case. He said:
“It is a pathetic and worrisome moment in the western corridor of the Niger Delta states as Nigerian Navy officers arrested four of the Tantita security guards in Ondo/Ogun Zone after the Tantita guards successfully apprehended a wooden vessel fully loaded with crude oil.
“This afternoon, it happens that the Navy security initially was parading a wooden vessel loaded with crude oil, after a while, they released the vessel, which was fully loaded with crude oil by some oil thieves.
“Meanwhile, the Tantita security guards were monitoring the matter and later bombarded the vessel after discovering that the Navy officers were paid to guide the vessel. This notorious act or display by the Navy officers provoked the Tantita guards in the area to pursue the vessel, which they later succeeded in arresting.
“To our greatest surprise, the owners of the vessel ran away and came back to the scene with some Nigerian Navy officers working at the Dangote Refinery, which resulted in a conflict, and finally, the Navy officers attacked my men, later arrested four of the Tantita security guards from Ondo zone, and set free the wooden vessel.”