Conference Of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and over 38 Civil Society Organisations, under the umbrella of the Coalition Of National Civil Society Organisations (CNCSOs) have described online reports linking Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, to alleged multibillion naira oil bunkering and contract-splitting fraud as “the handiwork of a frustrated syndicate involved in stealing of Nigeria’s crude oil.”
Some online media platforms had reposted an allegation that a preliminary investigations estimated that the Naval Chief had accepted over $170 million in bribes over the past six months alone.
However, in a statement jointly signed by the CNPP’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade James Ezema and the National Secretary of the CNCSOs, Alhaji Ali Abacha, they described the allegations as “dead on arrival as efforts to truncate the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration’s renewed quest to mitigate the stealing of the country’s crude oil is the target of the disgruntled ring’s attack on Ogalla.
“We strongly believe that it was based on Ogalla’s track records of service that prompted Mr. President to trust him with the appointment in the first place and he has in the last six months shown that President Tinubu did not make any mistake in his choice of the Naval Chief.
“It has since become evident that since the Chief of Naval Staff launched the Nigerian Navy’s “Operation Delta Sanity”, which has been embraced by the government and leaders of the Niger Delta states, the oil thieves are increasingly uncomfortable.
“The new anti-crude oil theft tactical operation initiated by the Chief of Naval Staff and his effort to provide necessary equipment for personnel have become a serious nightmare for the enemies of the country’s economy due to its holistic and robust roadmap against crude oil theft and other forms of illegalities on Nigeria’s territorial waters.
“The Nigerian Navy in its reaction to the syndicated allegations expressly disclosed that all the vessels alleged to have been released, which was the basis of the bogus $170 million allegedly received by the Naval Chief in bribes, are still in the custody and undergoing investigation.
“The Navy said unambiguously and we quote: “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.”
“So, if the basis for the allegation, which is the arrested vessels, are still in custody, we call on the Chief of Naval Staff to disregard the detractors and continue with his renewed efforts against oil thieves in support of President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
“Nigerians are currently suffering from severe economic hardship and we urge President Tinubu and the Naval Chief not to be deterred by the smear tactic and discrediting actions of the oil stealing syndicate who are increasing unable to continue in their nefarious trade.
“It is on record that the CNPP and CNCSOs have been in the forefront of the agitation for an end to the brazen thieving of Nigeria’s crude oil in the last eight years and we will back every genuine efforts aimed mitigating the age-long economic sabotage for the benefit of the suffering masses.
“On the contract splitting allegation, the Navy has issued a clear response and there is no need over-flogging a dead horse as we call on President Tinubu not to succumb to the antics of the already drowning oil thieves who would naturally fight back by all means possible, including the ongoing syndicated blackmail”, the CNPP and the CSOs said.