The Nigerian Navy has denied the bribery allegations levelled against the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, describing it as untenable and baseless.
A media organization(not Metronetworknews) in a report had accused the Naval Chief of facilitating an unorganised bunkering of Nigerian crude and a multimillion-naira contract-splitting fraud.
Ogalla, in the report, was also accused of releasing several oil tankers impounded for transporting stolen crude oil off Nigerian shores after receiving kickbacks in millions of dollars.
The Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle,had said that the allegations against Ogalla would be investigated.
However, the Nigerian Navy, in a statement by the Director of Information, Rear Admiral Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, denied the allegations against Ogalla.
He explained that the arrested vessels mentioned in the report were involved in crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering, noting that they have not been released as alleged.
He said; “The allegations that the Chief of the Naval Staff accepted over $170 million in bribes as well as alleged involvement in multi-billion naira contract splitting fraud in the last six months are untenable, baseless and untrue.
“Firstly, there are clear procedural requirements in the arrest, detention, and release of any vessel or persons found culpable in the maritime environment. It is not until these processes are duly concluded that such vessels are released to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further action.
“Indeed, all arrested vessels mentioned in the publication that were involved in crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering are being investigated and none of such vessels has been released as alleged”.
Ayo-Vaughan pointed out that it was not within the power of the Chief of Naval Staff to award oil bunkering contracts, adding that only the NNPCL had such power.
“The CNS does not award or oversee oil bunkering contracts; the award of such is the sole prerogative of NNPCL.
“Also, all contracts awarded by the Navy follow due process in line with the laws of the Federation. The Nigerian Navy and her roles are an offshoot of the constitutional provisions and duly guided by extant laws and regulations of the land.
“The policing roles of the Navy empowered her to monitor the maritime domain of the Nation. These among others include the arrest of vessels that contravene any of the maritime laws and SPOMO Act 2019, ” he added.
The director accused some unarmed persons described as disgruntled elements who he said were feeling the heat of the several operations by the Navy of making efforts to blackmail Ogalla.
He added that the elements had believed no individual could confront them, but following the operations, they had been put on their toes, adding that this had resulted in blackmail.
“The Service is aware of the coordinated frantic efforts to blackmail the office and person of the CNS by some disgruntled elements who are feeling the heat of the Nigerian Navy’s renewed vigour to fight crude oil theft and illegalities in the maritime domain as well as those who have in one way or the order shortchanged the Navy before now.
“Specifically, the continuous rejuvenated operations towards curbing oil theft has given the oil thieves sleepless nights hence the decision to engage in the malicious publications. It would be recalled that the Nigerian Navy recently launched OPERATION DELTA SANITY which provided for a holistic, more robust roadmap towards the reinvigorated stance of the NN towards the fight against crude oil theft and other forms of illegalities in the Nation’s maritime environment.
“Indeed, the NN is aware of these antics as it is expected considering the current resolve of the NN to engage oil thieves head-on. The cartel hitherto believed no individual could confront its ranks. Fortunately, the recent achievements of the NN in this regard have put them on their heels hence the resort to cheap blackmail through immoral and compromised online media publishers, ” he stated.
He assured Nigerians that the blackmail wouldn’t distract the service in their resolve to deny oil thieves freedom in the country.
“Pertinently, the NN will continue to ensure legitimate businesses in the maritime domain thrive seamlessly. Also, these distractions will in no way retract the NN’s resolve to confront these criminals who must be brought to justice for Nigeria’s economy to rebound. The security and economy of the Nation are greater than any group of persons that think they must continue to drain the country.
“Accordingly, members of the public are therefore enjoined to discountenance completely the malicious publication that emanated from Peoples Gazette because it is totally untrue and completely baseless being a figment of the shallow imagination of the writer, his publishers, and their unpatriotic sponsors,” he said.